Mickalene Thomas’ provocative depictions of Black femininity and sexuality have made their way around the world, quite literally. For the latter half of 2021, the Brooklyn-based artist showcased unseen work in ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’, an ambitious four-part, multi-city presentation at Lévy Gorvy galleries in New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong. The shows featured interconnected bodies of work that ranged from paintings and illustrations to video pieces, expanding on the artist’s decades-long study of the Black female body as a vehicle of power, eroticism, agency and inspiration. 

Thomas debuted her latest large-scale Jet paintings, all inspired by vintage pin-ups from Jet magazine, which was known for its central role in Black American life since its first issue in 1951. The anonymous pin-ups were recontextualised by Thomas, using a diverse range of material techniques including silkscreen, oil, acrylic and rhinestones to celebrate their beauty, strength and individuality. In these works, Thomas not only co-opts the formal language of the avant-garde movement from the 19th and 20th centuries to convey freedom, fluidity and experimentation, she also inserts and emphasises the political paradigm of Black liberation – a true vanguard of American culture.

For the latest in our Artist’s Palate series, she has put her own spin on a much-cherished dish, Ferran Adrià’s duck with chimichurri, from his book The Family Meal. ‘I’ve been cooking this for over ten years,’ says Thomas. ‘The recipe is delicious and reminds me of my travels. The way I cook it makes everyone love it, even if they don‘t eat duck – some people think it’s chicken.’ 

Mickalene Thomas’ recipe for duck with chimichurri

Ingredients

1 duck breast
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped and deseeded
2 small chillies, chopped and deseeded
Juice of 1 lemon
Dried thyme, ground cumin, sweet paprika, coarse salt, to taste

Method

Cook the fat side of the duck on a skillet on a high heat until cooked through and the duck skin is very crispy. Remove the duck and wrap in foil for 15 minutes, then slice. Mix the remaining ingredients together, then spoon over the duck, and serve. §