Kenrick McFarlane

Kenrick McFarlane, Jamaican American, b. 1990

Kenrick McFarlane is a Jamaican-American visual artist living and working in Chicago, USA. By combining a variety of visual languages, McFarlane stimulates a creative process which ultimately allows him to explore his spirit and the collective unconscious as an expression of his political and personal thoughts.

The potency of the work exists in its complete fragility; the paintings open us up to a haunting reflection of the present, one that is loaded with the impossible co-existence of violence and the right to ones humanity, a personhood nuanced with complexities and desires. Employing the visual techniques of Renaissance Painting layered with synthetic colored cartooning, McFarlane mixes tales of colonial conquest with that of first kisses and survival in love as a way to make visible the intimacy and fragility robbed from enslaved peoples across Africa and the Diaspora. This is a political act, one that refuses the depiction of blackness and trauma as inherent, instead offering alternative depictions, histories erased, full of play, desire, heroes and villains all likened in the fragile reflection of McFarlane himself.

McFarlane not only challenges the often racist legacies of how black people are depicted in images, both historically and in present, but completely immerses us in a world that is not far, or impossible to reach; a world that requires the acknowledgement of a humanity with more than one story to tell.

McFarlane had his first solo show entitled “Face Off” at the Gene Siskel Film Center. In 2012, exhibitions by Kenrick McFarlane include “The King of Crooks” which was shown at Morton College, and also “The Tipping Point of Me and We” at Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center. The exhibition was also hosted by the Contemporary Arts Council and curated by Tempestt Hazel. Later in 2012, McFarlane was chosen by Kerry James Marshall to participate in an exhibition curated by Dawoud Bey entitled, “Eclectic Coherence” The show was held at Expo Chicago located at Navy Pier. Kenrick McFarlane is a graduate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently pursuing his masters in fine arts at the University of Central Los Angeles.

Solo Exhibitions:

2010 / Face Off / Gene Siskel Film Center / Chicago
2013 / Kenrick McFarlane: Recent Paintings / ORNOT Gallery / Chicago


Selected Group Exhibitions:

2012 / The Tipping Point of Me and We / Little Black Pearl Art Center / Chicago
2012 / Eclectic Coherence / Curated by Dawoud Bey / Expo Chicago / Chicago
2012 / Multi Faceted / Savage Aesthete Collection / Pittsburgh
2013 / Marvelous Freedom/Vigilance of Desire, Revisited / The Arcade Gallery /Chicago
2013 / Subject / The Ultra Gallery / Chicago
2013 / New Visions / South Side Community Art Center / Chicago,
2013 / That Ship Has Sailed / Edna Manley College / Kingston, Jamaica
2013 / Not Just Another Pretty Face / Hyde Park Art Center / Chicago
2014 / An Unlikely Hero / Purdue University / Michigan City, Indiana
2015 / Seven Over Seven / Silent Funny / Chicago
2015 / Strange Bedfellows / Blanc Gallery / Chicago
2016 / 3 Generations / Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative / Chicago
2016 / Transactions / Knockdown Center / Queens, New York
2016 / Glappitnova Showcase / Moonlight Studios / Chicago
2016 / Get Clear on What You Think / Maxwell Colette Gallery / Chicago



Publications / Interviews:

2011 / Dirty Dozen / “Art: Defining The Undefined” / By Heather Liggins
2011 / HAS Magazine / “Welcome To Kenrick Mcfarlane’s Twisted Reality” / Kat Harris
2012 / Tipping Point of Me and WE / “A Reflection From a Black-Eyed Squint” / J. Jordan
2015 / Inside/Within / Kenrick McFarlane’s Latent Cartoon Abstractions / Kate S.
Fellowships / Residencies:
Rebuild Painting Fellowship / Theaster Gates, Rebuild Foundation / Chicago / 2016
2009 / Distinguished Scholarship Recipient / SAIC
2010 / Archibald Motley Scholarship / SAIC