Sikelela Owen paints what is closest to her: family, friends, and relationships. The images she works with have endured as memories, to the extent that they are more than just a depiction of a moment in time. They represent an emotional echo given visual form. This sense of the intangible past is carried through in the way Sikelela paints. Her brushwork, on the one hand expressive and gestural, is also laid down in light glazes as if layering one haze of memory over another. Detail is only what is strictly necessary: everything superfluous is omitted, or lost. What results are paintings that tap into the loss of a precious moment, and the sense of meaning that such ephemeral things can engender within us.
Sikelela Owen (1984, London) studied Painting at Chelsea College (2009) and then Fine Art at the Royal Academy Schools, graduating in 2012. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Together’ at James Freeman Gallery, London; ‘Supper, Sleep and Sorrow’ at LdM Gallery, Florence; and ‘Love, Eat, Sleep, Repeat’ at HSBC Canada Place in London. In 2014 her work was included in ‘100 Painters of Tomorrow’ at Beers Gallery and in the Thames & Hudson Publication. In 2019 Sikelela was awarded a Fellow’s Residency at the British School at Rome, and in 2020 her work was shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize.