Afrofuturism and the sex life of coral – inside the wild mind of Ellen Gallagher

Afrofuturism and the sex life of coral – inside the wild mind of Ellen GallagherJune 2, 2021

The artist’s latest work is the product of ‘hard physical labour’. She reveals her inspirations – from marine ecosystems and Flemish commodity painters to Black Atlantis

Talking to Ellen Gallagher about her paintings is a multi-dimensional slalom ride: we swerve from the social lives of pictures to the sex life of coral and the transportation of slaves across oceans and centuries. Right now her latest works are all finished and singing to each other across a gallery floor before going their separate ways into museums or private collections.

There are just five paintings on display at London’s Hauser & Wirth gallery, but they embody two years of “hard, physical labour” and decades of thought, plugging into a deeply personal mythology that she has developed from Afrofuturist fiction, marine biology, random song lyrics and the struggles of her artist forebears to give black people a proper place in the world.

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