Arcmanoro Niles, I Look Just Like My Mama With My Father’s Eyes (Can Time Heal The Guilty), 2021. Oil, acrylic, and glitter on canvas, 74 1/2 × 54 1/2 inches (189.2 × 138.4 cm). Promised gift of Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté. Image courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London. Photo by Elisabeth Bernstein. © Arcmanoro Niles
Arcmanoro Niles is a New York-based artist whose brightly hued paintings offer views of his daily life. He introduces little elements of hallucinatory surrealism into otherwise realist paintings through a dramatic play with color, texture, and light, as well as the integration of marginal characters he calls “seekers,” who reflect subliminal urges and desires. Often incorporating reflective paints and glitter to enliven the surface of his canvases and those depicted, Niles infuses his quietly mundane scenes with an electrifying vulnerability. “A lot of it is pretty intuitive, especially when it comes to the color, the construction of the composition, and how I want it to feel,” shares the artist. “But I think that, at the end of the day, I am a painter who is interested in color and stories that talk about who we are. Little moments that give us a glimpse into what life feels like.”
I Look Just Like My Mama With My Father’s Eyes (Can Time Heal The Guilty) depicts the artist standing in front of his kitchen sink, dressed in patterned lounge pants as he returns our gaze. Over a neon pink ground, the oil paints accentuate Niles’s features—in particular, his eyes—with a luminescent glow, a pinkish tint that recurs in the artist’s work, highlighting golden brown skin, glittery pink hair, and the bold, matte colors of the interior setting. The so-called seeker characters here include a strange little doll-like figure located in the bottom right corner, while an unfinished stick figure haunts the left edge of the canvas. These elements, along with the work’s personal title, move this self-portrait away from an exact representation and into a dreamlike scene, expanding the register of figurative painting and self-portraiture today.
Promised gift of Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté