Somaya Critchlow

Somaya Critchlow

Somaya Critchlow

Somaya Critchlow’s canvases and sketchbooks log an ongoing process of world building. The artist fashions these realms by drawing upon her expansive knowledge of picture-making traditions ranging from the Renaissance to the Rococo. In charting the ever-expanding dimensions of this female dominated universe, Critchlow casually disarms the distinctions that inform concepts of high and low culture by uncovering the ways in which class and racial difference are routinely conflated. The voluptuous, self-possessed women who explore Critchlow’s fantasy landscapes and pensively occupy domestic interiors or otherwise blank pages owe as much to the aesthetics of Love and Hip Hop as they do to Peter Paul Rubens, and thus prompt the viewer to consider the disparate ways in which we esteem these forms of culture—and the women they feature.

Critchlow’s women are endowed by their creator with a redoubling power that echoes across different media: figures that emerge against the fresh page of a sketchbook as a network of willowy, animated lines or in the simple miniatures of the artist’s early work reappear in later, more technically ambitious paintings, unflinchingly meeting the viewer’s gaze. The rich strata of thinned oils that make up these recent canvases are evocative of the liquid dark of Velázquez but also of the somber meditations on desire and mortality found in Dutch still life traditions, which are echoed in the insect-bedeviled fruits and hazy mirrors that have of late joined Critchlow’s cast of characters. Well-versed in the seductive language of painting, Critchlow indulges viewers’ automatic equivocation of the female nude with endlessly available pleasure, while simultaneously breaking with the genre’s traditions to thwart these attempts at possession.

Somaya Critchlow (b. 1993, London) lives and works in London. She obtained her BA in Painting at the University of Brighton before joining The Royal Drawing School in London, where she earned a Postgraduate Diploma in 2017.  Maximillian William recently debuted her first solo exhibition in London, Underneath a Bebop Moon (2020). Her prior solo shows include Sincere for Synonym at Fortnight Institute, New York (2019). Group shows featuring her work include (Nothing But) Flowers at Karma, New York (2020); and Role Play at Maximillian William, London (2019. Critchlow’s work is featured in collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art; RISD Museum, Providence; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ICA Miami and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, Norwich.

Download full CV here

SELECTED WORKS

EXHIBITIONS

PUBLICATIONS

PRESS

Feb16
POSTSCRIPT
POSTSCRIPT

Somaya Critchlow featured in Postscript, No.4 – The Reverie Issue

February 2021
Dec02
SSENSE
SSENSE

Somaya Critchlow in Conversation with Dan Thawley

December 2020
Oct20
PURPLE DIARY
PURPLE DIARY

Somaya Critchlow interviewed by Olivier Zahm

October 2020
Oct15
LUCY WRITERS
LUCY WRITERS

Postcards in Isolation 28: Somaya Critchlow and Dorothea Tanning’s Interior with Sudden Joy, 1951

October 2020
Sep18
OFFICE
OFFICE

Somaya Critchlow and the Erotics of Projection

September 2020
Jul13
I NEWS
I NEWS

Ella Kruglyanskaya, Sarah Lucas, Somaya Critchlow — the Best Art Exhibitions by Women Open Now

July 2020
Jun13
ARTSY
ARTSY

With Kitsch and Eroticism, Somaya Critchlow Confronts the Politics of the Black Nude

June 2020
Jun11
PURPLE DIARY
PURPLE DIARY

Somaya Critchlow’s “Underneath a Bebop Moon” at Maximillian William, London

June 2020
Feb15
ARTSY
ARTSY

These Emerging Black Artists Are the Future of Figurative Painting

February 2020
Jan30
ARTNET NEWS
ARTNET NEWS

Editors Picks

January 2020
Nov30
THE NEW YORKER
THE NEW YORKER

Goings on About Town

November 2019

RELATED CONTENT

Feb16
POSTSCRIPT
POSTSCRIPT

Somaya Critchlow featured in Postscript, No.4 – The Reverie Issue

February 2021
Jan22
Somaya Critchlow and Isabel Seligman
Somaya Critchlow and Isabel Seligman

On Wednesday 27th January at 7pm (GMT), Somaya Critchlow will be in conversation with British Museum Curator Isabel Seligman for Creative…

January 2021
Jan07
Somaya Critchlow: ICA Miami Acquisition
Somaya Critchlow: ICA Miami Acquisition

Somaya Critchlow’s Small Fire, 2020, oil on linen, has been acquired by the ICA Miami with museum funds provided by…

January 2021