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In This Skin: featuring Claudette Johnson

Article relating to an exhibition, 1992
Published by: African Peoples Review
Year published: 1992
Number of pages: 1

image of In This Skin: featuring Claudette Johnson

One of the most intriguing texts written by one Black artist about another was Steven McQueen, “In This Skin: featuring Claudette Johnson,” African Peoples Review (August 1992): 5. Steve McQueen, who was then a student at Goldsmiths College, and going under the name Steven McQueen, wrote it.  Claudette Johnson, a contemporary of Sonia Boyce, was known and admired for her large, empathetic, and engaging portraits of Black women, frequently executed in charcoal or oil pastel. Johnson had an exhibition at The Black-Art Gallery in 1992 and it was this body of work, which was visited and reviewed by McQueen, whose feature on Johnson appeared in a ‘grass-roots’ community newspaper, African Peoples Review, which described itself as “A Monthly Journal of Reviews of Publications and the Creative Arts of Peoples of African Descent.”

McQueen wrote: “On walking into the Black Art Gallery in Finsbury Park, London, I was amazed to see images of black women staring at me from all angles – some looking at me, some through me, and some past me. This reminded me of a photograph of my grandfather on the wall of my grandmother’s house when I was a child. Whenever I tried to hide from the glance of my grandfather’s gaze, it always found me! The works one sees in the exhibition, In this Skin are overwhelmingly arresting. They invite, and envelope the viewer to mediate in the enquiring and exploratory space of Johnson’s immensely imaginative and absorbing mind. Claudette Johnson’s tools are more than just paper and charcoal. What she does is to bring out the soul, sensuality, dignity, and spirituality of the black woman as she crafts away on drawing board, and far beyond….”

Towards the end of the piece – part of which was an interview McQueen conducted with Johnson – McQueen wrote: “Claudette Johnson’s art is rooted in her African heritage. Her talent is as powerful as it is obvious. We can only guess with delightful anticipation what Johnson has in stock for us all when next her works are exhibited.”

Steven McQueen, “In This Skin: featuring Claudette Johnson,” African Peoples Review (August 1992): 5.

Related people

»  Claudette Johnson

Born, 1959 in Manchester. England

»  Sir Steve McQueen OBE, CBE

Born, 1969 in London, UK