Shannon Bono

A painter's gaze as rebellion against colonial history.

Shannon Bono concentrating on a painting on a table in front of her in her studio
Artist holding a paintbrush to a painting that rests on a table in front of her
Two small paintings placed against a white surface in the artist's studio
6 images

Shannon Bono was born in 1995 in the UK. She now lives and works in London as both a practicing artist and associate lecturer at UAL.

Publications

Works and writings featured in eminent publications including i-D Magazine, Elephant Magazine, CSM Stories, Another Magazine and Mission Magazine.

Did you know?

In life and art Bono has been inspired by American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu, citing both her music and her ability to champion and uphold self-acceptance in the face of internal and external opposition.

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Practice overview

Bono experiments across painting, collage and sculpture to tell dynamic stories of Black womanhood. With the exception of her mother and close friends, she largely paints herself from photographs with oil paint. The works recall the grandiose liturgy of Renaissance and Byzantine art, and seamlessly thread African textile cultures with scientific images of sickle and nerve cells - a symbol of cultural and physiological life. Following principles of Afrofemcentrism, Bono uses the Black femme body to uncover histories and present themes of liberation and self-autonomy.

Shantel (2020) is one of the few portraits that isn’t of the artist herself. Instead, it depicts her friend’s partner who is eight months pregnant. The painting represents a queer couple's tenacious attempts to conceive and the challenges of finding a Black sperm donor in the UK. Positioned between two traditional fertility statues, Shantel’s gaze reflects both the fatigue of the process and the staunch determination to create a family. The work embodies the sentiment of the ‘oppositional gaze’ coined by seminal writer and activist bell hooks. In doing so, Bono reframes the power dynamics of portraiture in wholly autonomous works of art.

"I want to give a platform to Black female leaders that I’ve been told about as I grew up."Shannon Bono