Patricia Renee Thomas is a Philadelphia based painter who explores historical references of blackness to further investigate her personal environment. The content of Thomas’s work is filled with Jim Crow-era imagery which recalls blackface: Patricia’s way of probing the historical exploitation, exoticism and sexualisation of the black body. As a black woman, it the artist’s intention to make work about black women, she recontextualizes the classic portrait through the lens of the other while implementing an uplifting colorful pallet.
According to the artist:
The black body, or just existing while being black is a learning process for all black diaspora. I’m still learning myself. When I was young, I lived in a blissful naivety. I learned the basics of history, with a tenderness from my family and loved ones. When approaching adulthood, information came flooding toward me; the reality of racism, sexism and colourism. It was kind of a traumatic shock that I had to deal with. Learning so much history of hate and prejudice made me angry. Frankly, it gave me nightmares. How could I navigate this? How do I express the frustration of fully functioning racism that specifically pertained to me? I find painting about it, the fine line between the power of my history and playing with it’s imagery is quite relieving. It gives me a power and the ability to control it as well as how I want it perceived. By reaching past an uglier message I feel as though I can reveal more issues in the community. Through my work, I have the power to say something important visually, and your eyes have no choice but to see. I want my subjects to take up space. I paint about the things that I find absolutely beautiful, black men, women and children existing in that space, while attempting to convey a message about some of the issues I’m still living and seeing today.
Patricia Renee Thomas: Honey Suckles
Exhibition dates: Through June 15, 2019
New Image Art
7920 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046