New American Paintings

Amber J. Esseiva

One ever feels his two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

–W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Many of the selections in this issue are paintings wrestling with notions of two-ness. Two-ness as it relates to the subconscious, as it relates to race and representation, cultural identity, and gender. Twoness as a recognition of a shadow self that controls and complicates multiplicitous and sometimes divergent visions of the self., Jordan Peele offers a radically expanded version of double consciousness through the genre of horror. I find it useful to frame some of the key concerns brought forth by works selected for this issue, in figuration, abstraction, and collage, through Peele’s vision. To this end, this essay contains many spoilers.

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