A Fantastical Take on the Blackamoor: A Review of Kajahl at Monique Meloche

CAIRA MOREIRA-BROWN, NewCity Art , December 9, 2020

At Monique Meloche’s West Town gallery, an array of oil paintings by Santa Cruz-born artist Kajahl explore the Blackamoor. Blackamoor comes from the early modern period of art, showcasing highly stylistic figures that depict the lives of people European artists imagined lived in territories unknown to them. Kajahl explores the concept of the Blackamoor through extravagant illustrations of Black subjects. The gaze in each oil painting reveals a prominent aspect of the experience, with each figure looking back at themselves and the viewer caught in between the gazes.


Each figure Kajahl paints, from “Tigress Guardian In Palmtree Oasis” to “Star Gazer In Solitude,” provoke wonder and intrigue into their decorative apparel and majestic gestures. The concept of fantasy seems foundational for Kajahl. As they reimagine the Blackamoor, the warriors, the scientists and the scholars all take on their own reworked narrative that leaves plenty to the imagination.