saint-louis

Amy Sherald, What’s precious inside of him does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence (All American), 2017, oil on canvas, 54 × 43".

Amy Sherald

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

The subjects of Amy Sherald’s meticulous, nearly life-size oil portraits confront the viewer with ambiguous expressions that are neither joyful nor melancholic. Their impassive gazes suggest interiorized contemplation and recognition of being seen. This intimate, seven-piece retrospective of her output from the past three years focused on works depicting one or two subjects standing against a flat monochromatic field, cutting bold totemic silhouettes out of bright voids. The outlier—also one of the more recent pieces, debuting in this show—situates a pair of women holding hands against the low horizon of a blue-skied rural landscape, punctuated by the trail of an airborne rocket in the distance.

Sherald has made roughly thirty paintings over the past ten years, which may account for this show’s haiku-like size. After working for nearly two decades with steady if modest success, Sherald was

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