I am often disheartened by the history and politics attached to the defining , and ownership of “art” (i.e. who gets to own and preserve cultural artifacts/art). With this being so, I have often shied away from frequenting (and by default promoting) the larger galleries (and museums) , choosing instead to seek out the smaller, lesser known, art galleries and artists. However, this is frustrating because I often feel like I am missing out. So, this summer I put aside my politics and sought out the ROM and AGO, to see what I have been missing. And, I have also taken out my water paints to create my own art. It has been a great way to let go of the work week and daily life stressors.

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Apparently there is research to substantiate my  findings, about the health benefits of art. For example, a 2007 Department of Health and Arts Council England publication, ‘A Prospectus for Arts and Health‘ asserted that the arts have an important part to play in improving health and well-being (2016). This includes appreciating the work of others or completing your own pieces of art. So, if you like art, as a form of stress relief or for other reasons, I would like to introduce you to two of my favourite artists, and why I think you should get to know them and their work.

LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE

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I have recently fallen in love with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s work.  I do not have a favourite piece from this artist – I think that I love them all. Her work feels really fresh, and I can get lost in each piece for hours. I love her use of colours and the mood and personalities that she captures on paper. If you have not been introduced to her work, please remedy that soon. The Jack Shainman Gallery (2012) noted the following about Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and her work .

  • Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s oil paintings focus on fictional figures that exist outside of specific times and places. In a 2010 interview with Nadine Rubin Nathan in the New York Times Magazine, Yiadom-Boakye described her compositions as “suggestions of people…They don’t share our concerns or anxieties. They are somewhere else altogether.” This lack of fixed narrative leaves her work open to the projected imagination of the viewer.
  • Her paintings are rooted in traditional formal considerations such as line, color, and scale, and can be self-reflexive about the medium itself, but the subjects and the way in which the paint is handled is decidedly contemporary. Yiadom- Boakye’s paintings are typically completed in a day to best capture a single moment or stream of consciousness.
  • Her predominantly black cast of characters often attracts attention. In a recent interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist in Kaleidoscope, she explained, “Race is something that I can completely manipulate, or reinvent, or use as I want to. Also, they’re all black because…I’m not white.” However Yiadom-Boakye maintains, “People are tempted to politicize the fact that I paint black figures, and the complexity of this is an essential part of the work. But my starting point is always the language of painting itself and how that relates to the subject matter.”
  • Yiadom-Boakye was born in 1977 in London, where she is currently based. She attended Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Falmouth College of Arts and the Royal Academy Schools. She is also included in many institutional collections including the Tate Collection, London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Miami Art Museum, Florida,  the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, the Arts Council Collection, London, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

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CARL BEAM

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I have long appreciated Carl Beams work –  it really hits you in the gut. From his amazing – and deeply thoughtful – body of work Burying the Ruler #1 (pictured below) resonates the most with me. If you have not seen his work, it is very much worth exploring. The Canada Council of Art (2016) noted the following about Carl Beam and his work.

  • Carl Beam [pictured above, in photo taken by Ann Beam] was born in M’Chigeeng (West Bay) on Manitoulin Island. Of Ojibway heritage, the artist has exerted a strong influence on a whole generation of Aboriginal artists and has been instrumental in the development of the art of Canada’s First Nations. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria and also did post-graduate work at the University of Alberta.
  • His work, executed in diverse media such as drawing, watercolour, etching, non-silver photography, photo transfer, installation and ceramics, has been exhibited throughout North America as well as in Italy, Denmark, Germany and China. It is found in major Canadian and international collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y. In 2000, Carl Beam was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Until his death in the summer of 2005, he lived in M’Chigeeng.

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