Sonhouse’s portraiture addresses topics of personal and public identity. The artist once stated, “I paint the black male figure because it’s mine. That’s who I am.” Throughout his paintings, Sonhouse explores how notions of African-American masculinity are constructed, performed, and interpreted within Western culture. He embellishes these portraits with vernacular material, like beads, masks, fibers, gems, and glitter. His figures often sport jeweled suits and accessories; but invariably, their lineaments are partly concealed behind masks. Mask, and other elements of costuming, are emphasized by their painted and collaged textures which stand out against Sonhouse’s flat backgrounds.
Jeff Sonhouse (b.1968, New York, NY) lives and works in New York, NY. Sonhouse received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York (1998) and his MFA from Hunter College, New York (2001). Additionally, he won the Joan Mitchell Foundation award (2004) and the New York Foundation for the Art prize (2004). Sonhouse has had solo museum exhibitions at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA (2003) and the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2014). His work has been included in exhibitions at The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY (2005 & 2012); the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2017), and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL (2009), the latter traveled through 2016 to the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; First Center for Visual Arts, Nashville, TN; Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, New Orleans, LA;; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AK; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; and the Juliet Art Museum, Charleston, SC. Sonhouses’s work is part of the public collections of the Nasher Museum at Duke University, Durham, NC; Artist Pension Trust, New York, NY; Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL; and The Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH.