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Last month, Genesis Tramaine’s first solo show with Almine Rech in London opened, only to be closed early to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Her show of new paintings “Parables of Nana” is grounded in the spiritual realm, and is still accessible via appointment and online.
Whitewall reached out to New York-based Tramaine to learn more about her practice, and why there is no room for ego on her canvas.
WHITEWALL: What was the starting point for “Parables of Nana”?
GENESIS TRAMAINE: I begin learning the “Parables of Nana” as a child. I began learning the parables of the Christ a few years ago. I was called to paint the “Parables of Nana” about a year ago. My biblical study has brought me back home. I’ve recently realized the depth of importance my nana’s teachings played.
WW: The new series of paintings invites visitors to contemplate themselves in the presence of divine spirit through the human face. How do you see the portrait as a space for contemplation?
GT: The “portrait” is a gospel hymn, packed with messages that have been passed down to me. Both spiritually and culturally. As a vessel, I understand the viewers connection and I am grateful to God to be able to provide a space that invites deeper thought, prayer, or praise.
WW: Where do you typically start with a painting?
GT: I begin in my kitchen, in my church. I pray for the presence of the holy spirit and we birth a freedom song—better known as gospel. As it’s referred to commonly here; a portrait.
WW: In this new series of paintings, was there a technique or theme you explored for the first time?
GT: No. I’ve painted this way for a long time. I paint with the techniques of rhythm, color, space and prayer. It’s important to maintain tradition when planting cultural mustard seeds.
WW: Do you find the act of painting to be spiritual for you as an artist?
GT: Yes. Otherwise for me it is ego driven and there’s no room for ego on the canvas. It’s a praise and devotional space for me.
WW: Can you tell us about your studio space? What is a typical day like for you there?
GT: My studio space is welcoming and clean and quiet and full. There is no typical day in my kitchen. I work really hard to be still.
WW: We wanted to check in to see how you are doing at this time, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
GT: I’m praying for the families affected by the current happenings in the world. This is a perfect opportunity to go in, since we can’t go outside.