Contemporary Painting and the Classical Black Figure
The Tate’s national collection of British art includes work about the Greek myth of Andromeda who, according to the Roman poet, Ovid, was an Ethiopian princess rescued from death by Perseus. This chapter explores this racialized, gendered narrative and Andromeda’s suppressed African heritage through writing, reading, digital design, painting, photography, and drawing. How do British, Classical, and Black identities interact through art, and how are such processes mediated through a complex history characterized by colonialism and slavery, as well as by independence, struggle, and settlement? Informed by the disruptive spirit of Frantz Fanon, the author’s studio practice responds to Tate artworks, like Henry Fehr’s monumental sculpture, as well as to whiteness in Burne-Jones’ and Turner’s paintings. The author’s own artwork Rescue of Andromeda is proposed as demonstrative of how critical reading and studio methodologies can facilitate new art celebrating ascendant black womanhood, whilst contributing to debates about artistic tradition and popular culture.
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