Blurring the lines between abstraction and figuration, the contemporary artist Ferrari Sheppard creates mid to large scale paintings celebrating the humanity of Black people in the Americas and within the diaspora. The Los Angeles based artist was born in Chicago and lived in various cities in Africa. His paintings are influenced by memories and lived experience, evoking a sense of nostalgia.
Sheppard’s approach to figuration heralds a new visual language, with large acrylic, charcoal, and 24k gold on canvas conveying movement and emotion through his confident brushstrokes and distinctive use of color. His abstract practice brings forth irregularities in each work giving the viewer a sense of activity and excitement. Evocative titles are used in a poetic manner to reflect deeper meanings and cultural references. The abstracted figures are created with an intuitive balance between subtle idiosyncrasies and intentional opacity, holding space for the complexity and expansiveness within each individual being.
Sheppard often incorporates gold leaf adding an iconographical effect throughout his work, catching light and accentuating presence within in his work. As writer Kristina Kay Robinson notes: ‘In Bond, we behold a Black Madonna and her golden child. The charcoal and gold work together as earthly material creating a texture and dimension to the visual universe presented. Again, we are reminded of the fierce power of love to transform and preserve the human soul through the ebb and flow of time and circumstance. Sheppard’s paintings are substantial in size, giving room for their subject matter to expand and make a home for the largeness of their narratives and implications. This work reflects profoundly on the emotional and intellectual interiority of the figures portrayed. It grapples with the fates of African and Indigenous peoples all over the world and is a welcome and necessary addition to the galaxy of contemporary art’.