Tiwani Contemporary, London, United Kingdom 22 Nov 2019 - 11 Jan 2020
Michaela Yearwood-Dan, The Stone Rose (Detail), 2019.
“As the tide carried me to the realm of self-content and reflection, it is now that I see that it was simply carrying me to the shore of finding myself.” Michaela Yearwood-Dan
Tiwani Contemporary is pleased to present After Euphoria – an exhibition by Michaela Yearwood-Dan – the artist’s first solo show with the gallery.
Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s work reflects on subjectivity and individual identity as forms of self- determination. Through painting, she explores how selfhood and experience – especially love and loss – marks of existence – constitute a vital and highly personalised process of self- historicization vis-à-vis identity formation.
After Euphoria draws heavily on the vicissitudes of her own romantic life – past and present – exploring what the artist calls the ‘bitter-sweet reality’ that arrives in the aftermath of heightened emotion and connectivity. Yet the artist also coheres falling in and out of love with the mutability of contemporary experience that is desirous of advancement but marked by crisis and change. But what occurs at the end of all these entanglements – amorous or political? Yearwood-Dan proposes a rosy perspective of nostalgia that gives way – starkly and inevitably – to a sudden realisation of disillusionment; that all is not what it’s cracked up to be or was. The works in this exhibition explore an awareness of the hues and textures of that epiphany.
Yearwood-Dan invents abstracted habitats that often feature recurring botanical motifs and forms – each painting often suggestive of a distinctive emotional landscape. She often inscribes poetry onto the canvas with varying degrees of legibility. The geography of its placement on the canvas bears no deliberate design – sometimes appearing on the periphery and occasionally in media res. In You Look Good In Green, she presents an ominous scene – an impenetrable threshold tipping into or in the midst of a disturbance. Either way – the idyll has been broken but hints of its former luxuriance still abound. In The Red Sun is Falling, a site of trauma is presented where open wounds and fresh dripping cuts jostle for space with fading scars that seem to deplete into the background but forebode unfulfillment. In Breathe, we see a darkly seductive setting at work; an invitation to cross into a strange, unfamiliar territory. In My Sweet Hopeless Wanderer, a precipice in double aspect is presented and indicated by the curled branches of a ghost forest. Is this a point of no return or a place that requires a reflective, stationary position? There are words – directives and maxims written elegantly on the canvas – present but barely visible. “Keep still and let me touch your sadness on the side” says one side. “
You know miserable loves company right?” says another. Perhaps this is an elegy or a rehearsal of feeling. Yet there is downward direction that suggests a neat drop into closure. We arrive at a thick block of colour featuring signed cursive script almost casual in its declaration but somewhat sardonic and ambivalent: ‘well this is it’. Is this a signpost or the arrival of consolation? It’s hard to say but there is ambivalence and ultimately a lack of conclusion. Whilst her work may be underpinned by an expansive and multivalent repertoire of cultural signifiers borrowing freely from blackness, healing rituals, flora, texting, acrylic-nails, gold- hoops, carnival culture, these reference points enable her to present and privilege the variance of her own individual experience. As such, her work refuses to be framed by narrow expectations of racial or gendered notions of collective identity and history. She defamiliarizes many of those reference points in her work resisting the clichés and strictures of representation: “I think the second I stopped trying to hide behind how a feminist, millennial, black woman should be and the goals they should attain I felt the load lift of my shoulders and found the ability to make the most honest work I could make,” says Yearwood-Dan.