Over the past 20 years, Thomas has cultivated a distinctive vocabulary of Black erotica, Black female sexuality, and Black queer aesthetic and thought within her multidisciplinary practice to producing and exhibiting her work. With the sequential premieres of “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” in the gallery’s locations in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong, Thomas sets out to formally, spatially, and philosophically draw attention to the central study of her art: the power and desirability of Black women, and their presence, imprint, and legacy in global avant-garde visual culture.
In her Jet Blue paintings debuting in London at 22 Old Bond Street, the artist builds upon her newest series, which premiered in New York earlier in the month, with seven large-scale paintings composed of silkscreen, oil and acrylic painting, and rhinestone application. The paintings feature images of archival photos of Black women sourced from vintage Jet Magazine pin-up calendars. These new works reinforce Thomas’ formal and material concerns in the centering of Black femininity, in this case beyond her personal relationships of intimates the artist is most accustomed to working with as subjects, to include existing images from the 1970s, a period of the artist’s own adolescence and greatly influential to her overall oeuvre. Through her reworking of these images, Thomas tenderly imparts a familiarity and personalization with the women depicted in the paintings that, other than their monthly pseudonyms, were published as anonymous figures. Thomas will also premiere a film in London at 40 Albemarle Street made with her collaborator, Racquel Chevremont, titled Je t’aime #4 (2019; 15:27), that intensifies her dialogue with the past through personal narrative.