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 Laylah Ali  (1968 - )

About: Laylah Ali


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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: flat form abstract painting, social issue genre

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BIOGRAPHY for Laylah Ali
1968 (Buffalo, New York)

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flat form abstract painting, social issue genre

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An exhibition of her work was held fall, 1998 in Boston at Miller Block Gallery. She does small-scale gouache paintings of colored forms suggesting cheerful wallpaper, but they disguise darker, more complex meanings of happy people doing unspeakable things to each other. Many of her figures wear black eye-masks, and skin color is always brown, suggesting anonymity and the blurring of distinctions between good guys and bad guys.
The following is from a review:

BOSTON.- The Institute of Contemporary Art presents "Laylah Ali: 2000 ICA
Artist Prize", on view through July 1, 2001. Laylah Ali has become known in
recent years for her small gouache paintings that feature cartoon-like,
round-headed figures. These pastel-colored characters are depicted in
ambiguous scenarios suggestive of racial subjugation, oppression, and
political abuse. Ali's direct, child-like representations belie their serious
examination of moral and physical violence.

Ali constructs narratives that at first seem to be in the realm of children's heroes and villains, but that, on closer inspection, reveal social and psychological tensions. The figures in her paintings, which she calls "Greenheads," have large, green-colored round heads and brown-skinned attenuated bodies. These figures, sometimes wearing brightly colored shirts and shorts or robes that could be interpreted as those of religious groups or the Ku Klux Klan, are engaged in scenarios of enigmatic intention but always with an undercurrent of violence, shame, betrayal, and humiliation.

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