Rianna Jade Parker on the changing perceptions of Black British art

For The Guardian, art curator and critic Rianna Jade Parker examined the renewed interest in Black British artists:

In more recent times, the hugely popular exhibitions Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (2017), The Place Is Here (2017), and Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers (2019) have galvanised a new audience, generating an overwhelming interest in art by Black artists from the general public, students, institutions and the private art sector. The value and necessity of Black art should, by now, be a moot point, and instead the weight and responsibility should remain on those who ignore Black artists and are reluctant to engage with charged personal histories that are uncomfortable to them.

These overdue advancements aggregate the possibilities and implications of Black British art created in the 20th and 21st centuries. Accessible digital technology, image- and text-based social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, and growing creative capital have provided a much-needed revamp to the unwritten rulebook of the largest unregulated market in the world. Our culturally meaningful experiences appear in multiple forms, and visual content and codes migrate from one to another.

I went to Soul of a Nation at the Tate and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m glad more Black art is being seen but the circumstances that sparked this renewed interest aren’t ideal, at least from a non-Black perspective. The ideal situation is Black viewers feeling inspired to express themselves and their surroundings in similar or unique ways and that is all we can really hope for.

Related to Black British art: ‘Bold Black British’, curated by Aindrea Emelife,

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