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A World of Art: Laylah Ali`s Paintings

This paper aims to analyze the works of such contemporary artist as Laylah Ali. She was born in New York in 1968. At the present moment, she lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Williams College and later continued her studies at Washington University (Art 21 PBS, 2009, unpaged). In her paintings, she explores themes that are very vital for the modern community, in particular, the interplay of power, compulsion, and violence and most importantly their impact on personality. It is rather difficult to single out her major works because the author doe not actually name them. Actually, one should not think that the author explicitly shows these phenomena in her drawing, she mostly relies on the use of symbols or facial expressions to render her major ideas. Laylah Ali gives preference to the so-called gouache, a technique which relies on the usage of opaque water colors. We may also say that this artists depicts scenes which we may observe almost on a daily basis, for instance bulling but she presents this scenes in a caricature way.

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The painting which I would like to describe is untitled. It is created in 2001. Again, she used gouache technique (Ali, 2009). As regards the size of this picture, it should be noted that the author drew it on a canvas 69X 45cm. It portrays three little men1 looking with humility at the fourth one, who is the tallest and probably strongest among them2. Perhaps, it is a far-fetched conclusion but these characters appear to be very fearful as though they are petrified. They slightly resemble soldiers who immediately stand to attention when the superior officer commands them to do so. In fact, we really observe such images rather often, for instance, in the work place, when the subordinates have to report to the senior manager. On the whole, this picture can give rise to a great number of associations and each person can interpret it in his own way. In my standpoint, it main message is that hierarchical relations, compulsion, fear of the stronger dehumanize people, deprive them of their best qualities. The little creatures, which Laylah Ali describes, hardly remind human beings.

Overall, Laylah Ali is a very bright representative of contemporary or post-modern art. First, she does usually give titles to her pictures because she wants the viewer to think for oneself. This is peculiar feature of post-modernism. Additionally, she immensely relies on the use of symbols when she attempts to convey her message to the audience. Apart from that, her pictures are based on associations. Laylah Ali does not offer us explanations, more likely, she asks us questions which we need to answer. Besides, she expresses one of the major concerns about the impact of society and power on the inner world of a person.

Despite the fact that the works of this artist are not widely-known nowadays, we can say with certainty that they have already become an inseparable part of contemporary visual art. Laylah Ali alternates the use of complicated painting techniques with relative simplicity brushes; she combines sophisticated symbols with simple images. Her drawings may appear to be elaborate and childlike at the same time, and this is one of the reasons why they attract attention.


The painting


Art 21 PBS (2009). Laylah Ali: Biography. Web.

Henry, S. (2007). A World of Art. (5th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Sporre, S. (2003). The Creative Impulse. (6th Ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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Laylah Ali (2004). “Untitled Painting” Web.


1 “Men” is a conventional word in this case, their sexual identity cannot be identified

2 Please refer to the Appendix

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 7). A World of Art: Laylah Ali`s Paintings.

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