Next Big Thing: Paul Verdell
The Detroit artist had a revelatory experience at Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock Senegal residency
Detroit artist Paul Verdell experienced a thematic shift in his art practice in fall 2022. Mostly known for his figurative portraits and still lifes, he turned to abstraction during a residency at Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock Senegal, creating compositions of loose, wild gestures that conjure ocean swells and daybreak in a singular, expressive style.
“I started making these paintings in mostly oil sticks to mimic the sunsets and sunrises,” he says of his time in Dakar. “Returning home, I’ve kind of reverted back to the brush, pushing paint around, seeing what works and what doesn’t work.”
Artistic inspiration: “One of my favorite artists is Henry Taylor, so I was having people sit for me, something I learned from art school,” explains Verdell, who studied painting and drawing at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “And then there was a moment when I started noticing that I became less interested in who was sitting for me—it was the paint I wanted to play with, and the figure became a bit of a distraction.”
“I am drawn to the intensity of the figures Paul represents through his unique application of color and materials”Alessia Antinori
On view: Verdell’s luminous new work shines at Library Street Collective’s presentation at the Untitled Art fair in Miami.
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Winter Issue under the headline “Next Big Things.” Subscribe to the magazine.
Click here to see the full list of “Next Big Things.”