This artwork is an appropriation of a 17th century Swedish leading artist David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl’s 1670 artwork ‘Negro with Parrots and Monkeys’. When I saw this artwork originally I really enjoyed the composition and expression used. However we live in a cancel culture where even in the most fitting situations we aren’t allowed to mention a growing vocabulary of words purely because someone else has repeatedly used them in a derogatory manner and therefore it’s assumed all uses of the word are derogatory.
“The asian girl over there” for example, is now considered a racist comment instead of describing the person you’re referring to.
I feel as if I’m not allowed to tell anyone about the original artwork, it’s now considered racist despite portraying the opposite of how we now associate the word, negro.
By appropriating this artwork I’m giving the original artwork a new platform to be seen, we shouldn’t shun art history out of fear of using a word in the most appropriate context and being cancelled. I could have named it “I’m not allowed to title this artwork” but I don’t believe that would have reflected the original enough or even conveyed the point I’m making. I have two other appropriations and they’re each titled referencing the originals.
I did think about just appropriating the artwork into my own style, surrealist and bold colours although after starting I changed my mind and tried to ring true to the thin and many layers artists of the time would have used. Putting censor bars and staying true to the style seemed more appropriate to my goal. The approach to thinly layering paint didn’t sit well with me and I ended up stopping this to paint a massive artwork in my own style. Toward the end of this artwork I ended up rage quitting because I felt like it took too long. Had I isolated more time in the first week of this artwork then I would have stayed interested in keeping it realistic. I wasn’t able to perfectly match the perspective.
This artwork is one of my hand-stretched ones, sold with hooks ready to hang and a certificate of authenticity.