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June 24, 2022

Acquisition: Genesis Tramaine

Genesis Tramaine, "Clinging unto the Lord"

Genesis Tramaine
Clinging unto the Lord
, 2021
acrylic, oil stick, oil pastel, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, and the Holy Spirit on canvas
overall: 182.88 x 121.92 cm (72 x 48 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Purchased as the Gift of Howard and Roberta Ahmanson
2022.30.1

Genesis Tramaine (b. 1983) creates expressionist portraits of men and women that combine vigorous handling of materials with intuitive, spiritual inspiration. The National Gallery of Art has recently acquired its first painting by Tramaine, Clinging unto the Lord (2021). Blending a provocative use of color with an urban-inspired, mixed-media approach, she describes her practice as focused on the shape and definition of the "American Black Face" and as using exaggerated features to capture the spirited emotions of the untapped, underrepresented souls of Black people.

Enlivened by New York graffiti from the 1980s and imagined images of gospel hymns sung Sunday morning during church, Clinging unto the Lord is typical of her recent work: head-and-shoulder portraits based on individual sitters or biblical figures and painted in a trance-like frenzy that can be compared to speaking in tongues. Tramaine's Christian faith informs all aspects of her practice, from prayers said before, during, and after painting, to evangelical titles and inscriptions on the tacking margins of her canvases, to small "spirit guide" figures depicted within the larger work.

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