2016 – Kenrick McFarlane Paints Raw Vibrancy and Race in Chicago


Jamaican-American artist Kenrick McFarlane is currently pursuing a BFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  After three solo shows in 2012, Mcfarlane was selected to participate in the EXPO Chicago exhibition “Eclectic Coherence.”  When interviewed, Mcfarlane repeatedly expresses gratitude and humility for the support of his work and welcomes contact from other young artists in the hopes of building a community of professional support and comradery within the field of studio art.

McFarlane stresses the aesthetics before the politics in his painting; he hopes to visually engage his audience before they tackle the content of racial or socioeconomic tensions in the work.  And visually engaging they are.  His unique color pallet keeps the eye traversing through layers to process how the colors compliment and converse with one other.  His deeply engaging portrait work relays a sense of candid identity–the viewer feels immediately and intimately acquainted with the human on the canvas.


Reminiscent of Francis Bacon and the Fauvists, McFarlane’s work is vibrant, fleshy, luminous, and raw.  The oil work “Jason Robinson the Saint” radiates light and energy from the canvas–I find myself desperate to know this man’s story.  Fashion study (pictured) is somehow both audaciously stark and still humanistically vulnerable, a complexity rendered in very few strokes of the brush.  “White Face” is simply my new favorite painting.  Mcfarlane succeeds in his endeavor to captivate my eye and activate my mindfulness with this striking image.

Kenrick McFarlane clearly possesses a distinct interest in and gift for painting as a craft.  Contemporary art critics have claimed he exhibits “the makings of greatness,” (H.A.S. magazine).  In this critic’s opinion, he is already exhibiting great things.

-written by Emily Alessandrini

Published by taylorkimel

Artist located in Chicago.

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