Michaela Yearwood-Dan - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, June 29, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Alive and vibrant, filled with feeling, Michaela Yearwood-Dan creates paintings that are irrefutably beautiful. Through her implementation of deep colours and whirling tropical forms, the artist explores ideas of love, nostalgia, femininity and heartbreak, alongside deep-rooted themes of class, race and gender.  Living and working in London, Yearwood-Dan draws from her mixed Caribbean and British lineage: The forms and colours as expressed in Sentiments for D, vividly recall the vivacity of Caribbean carnival, a clear nod to the artist’s cultural heritage. 

    Through the ‘solitude’ of the recent pandemic, Yearwood-Dan found comfort in introspective consideration. In examining Sentiments for D, glimpses of poetic text such as ‘Wake up my darling for I cannot wake you, if you don’t wake yourself’ and ‘trust me’ can be found within the bows of the leafy plants which float across the canvas. The incorporation of text calls for careful contemplation and reflection: ‘I want people to spend time with my work, so some pieces of text are visible and others are not. I’ve intentionally made it so you can’t read everything.’i

    The inclusion of words and phrases in Yearwood-Dan’s paintings began after a relationship break-up in 2018. In search of solace, she would turn to apple’s voice recognition software, ‘Siri’, asking ‘Siri, are you my friend?’i These answers permeated her subconscious and were incorporated into her paintings, as did song lyrics from the music she was listening to in her studio which she has described as a ‘cathartic release.’iii


    Yearwood-Dan draws extensively on house plants which she describes as the embodiment of the home. Plants symbolise life itself, bringing energy into the space they occupy and create sinuous, undulating patterns on the canvas. Sentiments for D eloquently demonstrates how the artist methodically works from the centre of her canvases outwards. A space is left for the viewer to insert themselves into the narrative and extend a feeling of belonging, reinforcing Yearwood-Dan’s ideology that art should be for everyone.

    'The space in the middle is for you, for possibility.'
    —Michaela Yearwood-Dan
    Predominantly working with non-figurative subject matter, the artist borrows freely from pop culture, incorporating references to acrylic nails, gold hoops and technology, with a further emphasis on Blackness and queer culture. Yearwood-Dan cites Chris Ofili’s iconic work, No Woman No Cry and the evocative, textured teardrops in his painting as a particular source of inspiration. Whilst drawn to organic forms in the shape of leaves and plants, the foliage in her work is often overtly feminine, simultaneously resembling a stiletto heel or a perfectly manicured fingernail. Similarly, the selection of colour is a crucial element in Yearwood-Dan’s practice. An assemblage of reds, flamingly bright alongside darker, earthier tones in Sentiments for D, represents femininity and the inclusion of red in her practice coincides with a moment of increasing personal confidence. 

    The artist describes each of her paintings as akin to a page from her diary, revealing her innermost self and encouraging an intimate relationship with the viewer. Yearwood-Dan has described her artworks as a protest, refusing to be framed by narrow expectations of gender or racial history. Instead, she situates herself in the art historical narrative with few predecessors and no need for approval. 

    Yearwood-Dan has been celebrated with four solo exhibitions between New York and London. This year, Tiwani Contemporary celebrated the artist with a solo exhibition The Sweetest Taboo following their 2019 show, After Euphoria. In 2021 she was the subject of a solo exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery and and in 2019 at The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation.


    i Emily Tobin, ‘Michaela Yearwood-Dan In her Studio’, House and Garden, 18 November 2020, online
    ii Emily Tobin, ‘Michaela Yearwood-Dan In her Studio’, House and Garden, 18 November 2020, online 
    iii Russell Tovey and Robert Diament, Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Talk Art, 15 April 2022, podcast

    • Provenance

      The Auction Hub, Online, 19 March 2021 (donated by the artist)
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Sentiments for D

signed, titled and dated '"sentiments for D" 2020 Michaela Yearwood-Dan' on the reverse
oil on canvas
170.3 x 120 cm (67 x 47 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for £44,100

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey

Specialist, Associate Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+44 20 7318 4084

[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 29 June 2022