“Tate Liverpool presents the first, solo exhibition in Europe by NY-based artist Aliza Nisenbaum (b. 1977, Mexico). Bringing together new and existing work, the exhibition runs from 15 December 2020 to 27 June 2021. At its centre there is a new commission of portraits of people from Liverpool who have been key workers during the COVID-19 crisis, consisting of two new largescale group portraits and eleven individual portrait works on paper.
Influenced by the Mexican mural movement and its depiction of social history, Nisenbaum creates paintings that often focus on different members of a community and with the current global health crisis in mind will focus on NHS staff from Merseyside hospitals for her new commission.
The people depicted in the new commission of paintings sat for their portraits in August this year. They range from a student nurse who had planned to travel but instead opted to return to the front lines during the pandemic, along with many other medics in her family; a doctor who out of concern for the emotional aspects of care and the trauma experienced by medical professionals, set up a special story telling support group for his team; and a respiratory doctor returning home to a pregnant wife after every shift, and then to a new-born baby. Other sitters included a hospital porter, a chaplain and a professor of Outbreak Medicine who is a member of SAGE.” — Tate Liverpool
Helen Legg, Director, Tate Liverpool, said: ‘Nisenbaum sees painting as a political practice and in choosing to paint people who have worked tirelessly in support of others, at a time of heightened physical risk and anxiety she not only celebrates them but also asks us to consider whether as a society we place sufficient value on the critical work that they do. Though Nisenbaum is best known for community portraits she always draws out each individual, spending hours talking to them throughout the process and incorporating aspects of their personality and interests within her paintings. In her paintings every individual is unique and is valued. We hope that this exhibition speaks of the enormous gratitude people in this city feel towards all keyworkers.’
Aliza Nisenbaum added: ‘I’ve spoken online with 25 people who work in the healthcare sector in Liverpool. These conversations have provided a fascinating window into each person’s life as a key responder during the Covid pandemic. I have been deeply moved by these stories of service and selflessness, and of resilience through team work and humour. And I am very excited to create a tribute to each individual I’ve met through painting.’
Images courtesy Tate Liverpool.
*Tate Liverpool is currently closed due to Tier 3 local restrictions.