Amanda Wall's "Butterflies" exhibition at Almine Rech.
Photo: Courtesy Almine Rech

Self-Taught Artist Amanda Wall Brings Intimacy to Life in Tender Portraits

Wall uses herself in the majority of her work, “not unlike an ongoing performance piece”

Artist Amanda Wall poses on the floor of her studio wearing light gray pants and a black t-shirt.

The artist in her studio. Photo: Dana Boulos

Artist Amanda Wall uses the traditional medium of paint to document the informal images people routinely capture on their iPhones—the ones we might consider the most private; the first shot, not the best shot; the offhand photo to land an inside joke; or the quick mirror self-portrait, where we become a voyeur of ourselves.

“The self as subject, or main character, is a reflection of the present, of a culture obsessed with identity,” she shares from her studio in downtown Los Angeles, where she is preparing for her upcoming exhibition at Almine Rech in New York, which opens June 20. “We experience a majority of our lives and relationships through our phones and online now,” she observes. “I want my work to capture some of that energy.”

Wall’s studies in interior architecture and design in addition to her work as a fashion model as well as a stylist and an art director for beauty brands is reflected in her more straightforward portraits, where the occasional face is posed for a circa-2014, Tumblr-era moment of virality, painted in soft and mysteriously playful gazes, glowing in pastels, and adorned with a butterfly or bad-girl cigarette (or three). “I use myself in the majority of my work, not unlike an ongoing performance piece,” says the artist, who is originally from Oregon. “I am self-taught and am relatively new to painting, so everything still feels experimental and intuitive.”

Artist Amanda Wall's Tulip.


The women in Wall’s paintings reveal only hints of themselves: Their hands press deeply into their limbs’ own flesh; tongues run over one’s own lips hungrily; they wrap their arms around themselves for self-comfort, provocation, sadness, or deeply satisfying seclusion. Often contorting themselves in, around, or just at the edge of their beds, wearing their favorite old T-shirt or draped in a comforter cocoon, they’re sometimes washed in colorful shadows as if they were cast from the grim, artificial light of a nearby computer screen or TV playing in the dead of night.

Artist Amanda Wall's Tights Red Sky portrait.


Despite the notion of intimacy her works portray, the artist prefers to maintain boundaries. “I never use a living subject,” she discloses. “I can only work in solitude.”

A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2024 Summer Issue under the headline “Singular Expressions.” Subscribe to the magazine.

Cover: Amanda Wall's "Butterflies" exhibition at Almine Rech.
Photo: Courtesy Almine Rech


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