Johansson Projects presents Earth Black Lipstick, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Barbados-based artist Sheena Rose. The exhibition runs from February 25 – April 1, 2023 with an artist reception and talk with Autumn Breon on Friday, March 3, 5- 8pm.
Natasha Becker, Curator of African Art from the deYoung Museum, San Francisco writes:
Combining representation, abstraction, and bracing color, Sheena Rose captures the lost art of leisure. Her paintings depict Black bodies in slow motion: playing tennis or pool, lounging around having drinks or perhaps grooving to music. Proper leisure time is what nourishes the human spirit.
In America, sites of leisure for Black people have more often than not been inaccessible and racially charged. While Rose’s treatment of color and flatness of paint capture one’s attention, it is the content of her work that invites further thought: What does it mean for Black bodies to experience leisure when to be Black in America is to live through a continuous cycle of grind culture, protest, survival, and exhaustion?
Art history abounds with representations of people in states of leisure across space, time, and place. For instance, in modern Western society, scenes of people enjoying free time were a favorite subject of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters such as Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, George Suerat, Auguste Renoir, and so on. Leisure activities -swimming, reading, walks in the park- were divided along race, class, and gender lines. It was really only the upper and bourgeois classes who had access to free time and leisure activities. None of these iconic examples from the history of Western art depict Black people in repose.
Rose’s relaxed figures challenge centuries of demands for Black labor and instead, finds empowerment through leisure. Her vivid scenes, meticulously rendered in paint, invite joyful, playful, envious, and optimistic ways of seeing Black bodies. Conceptually, she shows that her subjects can do more in art and life than signify struggle. Instead, the artist represents Black bodies in vignettes and non-linear narratives. Her subjects are in conversation or engaged in leisure. Their active recreation celebrates the joy of mental and physical prowess. Beauty, indoors and outside, gives pleasure and relaxation. Her paintings exist in the world and are distinguished and exceptional for the tender intimacy and emotional depths they impart.
Sheena Rose often cites Monserrat-based author Yvonne Weeks’ book of poetry “Nomad” as a source of inspiration for her work. Week’s poetry is described as speaking to the “worlds we conjure and the inner world of the eternal wanderer.” I think, however, that Sheena Rose lives within her own rich interior and vibrant exterior world which enables and empowers her to reflect on her past and imagine her future.
Earth Black Lipstick runs from February 25 – April 1, 2023 with an artist reception on Friday, March 3, 5- 8pm.
For all inquiries, contact Johansson Projects at 510-444-9140 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheena Rose’s Lexicon of Black Liberation | March 13, 2023 by Kristen Wawruck
“The Barbados-based artist Sheena Rose, in a powerful solo debut, Earth Black Lipstick, …17 joyful, brightly colored paintings that show Black figures engaged in acts of leisure and sport. By obscuring their faces with voluminous hairstyles, Rose anonymizes them into what she calls “avatars”— composites of herself, friends, and strangers sourced from Pinterest, Instagram and her own travels.” LINK
Caribbean artists find space at Black Basel | November 19, 2022 by Barbados Loop
“…Barbadian artist Sheena Rose, whose career is on fire following coverage by The New York Times and Vogue, scored commissions for her vibrant, acrylic-based murals from institutions in Des Moines, Iowa (2022) and Washington, D.C. (2019)….” LINK
A Seat at the table’ exhibition celebrates women | March 16, 2023 by Barbados Loop LINK
British personality Miquita Oliver rocks first Sheena Rose dress in UK [British Fashion Awards] | October 31, 2022 by Barabados Loop
“Oliver said that how she came to own the design was very much a thing of fate almost and therefore, she promised Rose that whenever she donned the dress it would be for a huge night which would garner her much attention.” LINK
5 Sizzling Emerging Artists | August 30, 2022 ArtNews.com
“Barbadian artist Sheena Rose (b. 1985) creates bright, eye-catching works that depict Black women engaging in athletic feats from surfing to tennis using a distinctive graphic style that feels at once reminiscent of 1970s poster and cartoon design while remaining highly contemporary.” LINK
Sheena Rose: A Visual and Performance Artist Channels Her Challenges Into Creation | January 31, 2021 by Alia Akaam for hospitalitydesign.com
“Even before the pandemic reached North America, 2020 was off to a dispiriting start for Sheena Rose. After several years of baffling health struggles, the Barbadian contemporary artist was diagnosed with lupus; just a week later she was held at gunpoint. Then, the world began to shut down.” LINK
A Conversation with Sheena Rose 2021 by Dr. Emily Stamey, Curator of Exhibitions at Weatherspoon Art Museum
“Since June, the Weatherspoon’s atrium has been enlivened with a dynamic new artwork by artist Sheena Rose, MFA ‘16. Filling an entire wall of this gathering space, the brightly colored work greets people as they enter, sits with students as they wait for classes to begin, and provides a lively backdrop for selfies and group photos.” LINK
Sheena Rose: Dramatically Removing the Landscape | November 16, 2020 by Heike Dempster for Whitewall.com
“Contemporary artist Sheena Rose was born in 1985 in Bridgetown, Barbados, where she also currently lives and works. A Fulbright Scholar who holds a BFA from Barbados Community College and MFA from the University of North Carolina, Rose’s work is equally rooted in her Caribbean heritage as it is in her efforts to challenge any preconceived notions and definitions of said heritage.” LINK
The Artist Sheena Rose is Reaching Beyond Barbados | May 31, 2017 by Tamara Best for The New York Times
“Almost every room in Sheena Rose’s family home, tucked away on a quiet street here, has played host to her paintings and live performance art.” LINK
Sheena Rose (b. 1985, Bridgetown, Barbados) has exhibited in the United States at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina; Eric Firestone, NY, De Buck Gallery, NY; Connect Gallery, Chicago, EXPO Chicago, Chicago, IL, David Zwirner’s online Platform, Johansson Projects in Oakland, CA. Across the globe including the Havana Biennial, Cuba; ICF, Royal Academy of Arts, London, England; Berlin Biennale, Berlin, Germany; and the University of the West Indies, Barbados.
Her work has been featured in publications including The New York Times, ArtNews, Travel & Leisure Magazine, Vogue, Hospitality Design, White Wall, Wetranfer, Black Futures, Fox Television Empire Season 6. Her art appeared on the cover of “The Star Side of Bird Hill” written by Naomi Jackson.
Public works include a two-story mural at the Inter-American Development Bank Headquarters in Washington DC and a mural for the exhibition “The Other Side of Now” at the Perez Art Museum Miami. She was also commissioned by the DSM Public Art Foundation to design seven bus shelters in the 6th Avenue Corridor, Iowa.
In 2022 The Prime Minister of Barbados bestowed Rose with the award for culture. In 2020, she won the Greensboro School of Art Distinguished Alumni award. In 2014, she earned the distinguished Fulbright Scholarship. She holds an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Sheena Rose is a visual artist who works in Bridgetown, Barbados. Her multi-disciplinary practice includes painting, drawing, performance, new media, public art, and mixed media. Her bodies of work explore accessibility of personal power, referencing symbols of affluence and place. Her painting style is characterized by flat coloring, bold patterns from the seventies and eighties, and vivid, comic-book-like palettes and vignettes. Her proud figures take up literal and figurative space, donning clothes, hair and confidence that commands attention. Situated in a myriad of contexts – the tropics, with horses, beautiful interiors – they are symbolic celebrations of the artist’s imagination. Rose is curious about a generous world, where she can move freely and be present as her whole self in any space. Using only paints that are locally accessible to her in Barbados, she unlocks a certain freedom while querying real life strategies on how to get there.