Abstraction and the Middle Passage
“Dismantle #2,” a 1998 painting by Denyse Thomasos, a long-time stalwart of the New York and Toronto scenes who died senselessly this month, at only 47, from a reaction to a routine medical test. (A memorial will be held tomorrow). I once spoke to Thomasos about this picture, and she explained that she was trying to strike a balance between abstract concerns and a suggestion of subject matter, which she described in this case as having to do with slave cages and pens and the Middle Passage. (Thomasos was born in Trinidad, and black.) It was a hard line to walk, but she managed it beautifully.
Before the Lower East Side was all safe and tidy, I once spent an unforgettably raucous evening there with Thomasos. Woe to the person – or paintbrush – that didn’t do her bidding. (Image courtesy the Olga Korper Gallery)
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