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Yahmon
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Jamaal Peterman (American, b. 1990)

Yahmon (2019)

Oil Paint, Sand, Acrylic, and Vinyl Glitter on Canvas

While Jamaal Peterman’s colorful, geometric paintings appear to be abstractions devoid of representational signification, the artist conceives of his practice as a means to examine “how Black bodies navigate through urban space.”

The painting at first appears to be a geometric, simplified rendering of a house at night with a rainbow-colored moon at the left. The house is nonetheless surrounded by a set of mysterious elements that imbue the entire painting with a mysterious atmosphere: the house is connected via a red line to an unknown, surreptitious area in the underground, and the bottom of the painting features a thick red stripe created from a mix of oil paint and sand, on which a handprint, a drawing of a cow, and numbers are inscribed.

Although there are no Black bodies depicted within the picture plane, the eerie ambiance of the painting, as well as the potential connection of the segregated area within the composition to the historical “Underground Railroad,” transforms the painting into a meditation on the broader history of Black bodies within the United States.