Kerry James Marshall1997

In his large, figurative paintings, generally made in acrylic on unstretched canvas, as well as in his smaller iconic portraits, Kerry James Marshall engages symbolism and allegory to depict aspects of African-American history and folklore. Surfaces are often collaged with drawing paper which create a subtle but discernible grid; placed on top of the painted areas, they reinforce the flatness of the picture plane and disrupt the narrative continuity. Marshall's figures, stylized representations of the Black cultural body, are always painted jet-black.

"I wonder what being a late 20th century artist is all about, really. My studio practice is riddled with doubt about the currency of my art. Nevertheless, I persist, trying to make pictures that inscribe black existential realities without sacrificing a sense of majesty. I'm driven by a desire to meaningfully provoke others' curiosity, to paint without cynicism. I still believe in mastery; in the service of imagination it can exceed the limitations of circumstance."