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Original Work by Kamoy Smalling
72 x 36 in. (182.9 x 91.4 cm.)
  • Description
  • Description

    Oil on canvas, 2022.

    Notes from the artist: “JUMP” is the first painting of Kamoy’s that features the applehead, an androgynous figure whose head has been replaced by a Red Delicious apple. Kamoy often employs the Red Delicious apple in her paintings as an icon to facilitate conversations around the commoditization of identity. Over its history, the Red Delicious apple fell victim to breeding that prioritized durability and uniformity of physical appearance over its taste. This resulted in ostensibly identical and lucrative – but ill-tasting – apples. The apple’s plight serves as a reminder of the risk of sacrificing the true, authentic self in favor of a self that is fabricated by external norms and expectations. The applehead figure serves as an ambassador for this conversation around identity. The applehead featured in “JUMP” appears crouched in an arched window, looking down into a hazy but vibrant horizon. The image is meant to evoke feelings of rebirth and discernment – the applehead’s fetal-looking position in the window is reminiscent of a baby in the womb. Nods to Christian motifs around rebirth are also apparent in this piece (Jesus exiting the tomb three days after crucifixion). The dramatic, Carvaggio-style use of chiaroscuro sets the stage for introspection and uninhibited encounters with the authentic self.

    Meet the Artist

    Kamoy Smalling

    Kamoy (Kamoy Smalling, b. 1988, Bronx, NY): Kamoy creates oil paintings, drawings, films and installations that explore the human psychological terrain by showcasing moments of internal conflict, release, and reconciliation. Her haunting, yet inviting compositions often use avatars and dark humor to investigate the construction and deconstruction of the self through the lenses of race, femininity, and otherness.

    Raised in a conservative, insular religious community and bred in the orthodoxy of capitalistic infatuation, the New York-born artist’s works are heavily inspired by her journey and oscillation between identity portals and ways of being. Common themes examined include dynamic nominalism, the fluidity of identity, the fabrication of authenticity, and the juxtaposition of normalized notions of success and inadequacy.

    Self-taught, kamoy’s pieces seek to offer viewers a respite from the trite norms of categorical being. kamoy completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology and the History of Science from Harvard University before receiving her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.


    Kamoy Smalling