30 September 2021

Review of Jade Montserrat in ArtReview

In the artist’s drawings, shown at Bosse & Baum, London, fragments of the body merge uncomfortably with dreamy landscapes

Navigating the affective ambiguities of bodily consciousness, often through the prism of Afro-diasporic subjectivity, Jade Montserrat’s drawings resist clear-cut interpretation. In them, fragments of the body merge uncomfortably with dreamy landscapes, strewn with motifs that feel symbolic but whose meanings could be multiple and conflicting: a hand-shaped rock reaching out of the ocean (In Tune with the Infinite, 2015); a pair of feet with vultures perched on its toes and heels, while scattered over its pinkish skin are blue-and-yellow round bushy growths, possibly sea anemones, and diamantine shards (Feet, Spectator, 2016).

The recurring motif of the groin, presented as a frontal, semicartographic outline from waist to thigh, may celebrate female sexuality as a source of strength, and yet combined with such utopianism are more discomfiting references to sexual objectification and bodily dispossession. In Torso: Reef-knot (2020–21), the joyous palette (blue sky, pink blossoms), the balletic effect of the white zigzags and even the fantastic octopus-shaped ‘hair’ covering the figure’s genitalia are superficially uplifting. But less so are the potential allusions to the Middle Passage in the reef knots and the gold cage-like material cladding the Black skin.

Review by Tom Denman.

Read the full article here.