A RISING YOUNG ARTIST, Shaqúelle Whyte has joined Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London. Employing mood-defining palettes and expressive brushstrokes, Whyte makes dramatic paintings with contemplative subjects whose facial expressions we rarely see. Still in graduate school, the British painter has garnered significant attention. Pippy Houldsworth Gallery will present his first solo exhibition with the gallery in April 2024.

“Whyte presents imagined spaces imbued with a sense of ambiguity that interrogate the human condition, all the while exploring the material qualities of the medium,” according to his bio, which further characterizes his theatrical, figurative paintings:


Artist Shaqúelle Whyte. | Photo by Brynley Davies

    Loosely rendered, energetic brushwork and an expansive approach to composition are hallmarks of the artist’s practice. Although non-linear, narrative plays a central role in Whyte’s work, which sees him carry certain motifs over from one painting to the next. These recurring details contribute to the sense of theatre that pervades his work; Whyte directs his subjects as though they are actors and his canvas a stage. Despite excluding himself from the work representationally, the stories he crafts reflect his everyday life and innermost thoughts. The figures in Whyte’s paintings act as conduits for his subconscious. Giving form to thought through paint, he generates a sense of introspection through his characters’ often averted or guarded faces. At once enigmatic and familiar, Whyte’s paintings evoke the surreal and shape the ephemeral, ultimately leaving his world open to the viewer’s own interpretation.

Born in Wolverhampton, Whyte lives and works in London. Fresh from receiving his BA in fine art from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2022, he is currently studying for an MA degree at the Royal College of Art. He has been featured in several group shows. Early next year, White Cube will host an online solo exhibition of his work.

At Slade, tutorials with Michael Armitage, Jadé Fadojutimi, Rachel Jones, and Alvaro Barrington, relatively young, highly sought UK artists (most of them Slade alum), gave him a sense of direction and helped him better understand his ideas and the pressure to succeed facing young artists.


SHAQÚELLE WHYTE (b. 2000), “TBT,” 2023 (oil on canvas, 180 x 140 cm). | Courtesy the artist and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London


“What I realised in a really good tutorial with Michael Armitage was that I wasn’t painting people—I was painting myself and using the paintings as anchors to drive forward an idea. And that’s how I developed my idea of treating paintings as devices to mobilise different ideas,” Whyte told Rory Mitchell in an interview published by Ocula last year.

“I don’t want to make ignorant work. And by that, I mean work that’s not considered. I don’t think you’re ignorant if you don’t think about what you’re making, but for me it’s about where I came from, and the potentials of a Black male painter,” he said.

Whyte added: “There is more of a demand from the market for work by artists coming straight out of art school and there are younger galleries. There’s even more pressure on younger artists, and it’s scary because what you do early on impacts your future.”

“…There’s an incredible canon of artists making work right now. To be among those few given the platform to express themselves freely is a privilege.” — Shaqúelle Whyte

The representation news was announced yesterday and included a brief statement from the artist. Commenting on the moment, Whyte said, “there’s an incredible canon of artists making work right now. To be among those few given the platform to express themselves freely is a privilege.”

Over the past year, Pippy Houldsworth has also added Nigerian painter Nengi Omuku and American artists Dindga McCannon and Qualeasha Wood to its roster. CT


FIND MORE about Shaqúelle Whyte on Instagram


SHAQÚELLE WHYTE (b. 2000), “Shut the door, I’m playing Revolver,” 2023. | Courtesy the artist and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London


“Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium” documents a recent exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in London featuring a new generation of painters, including Michael Armitage. “When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting,” a new volume published to accompany a major exhibition of more than 200 works at Zeitz MOCAA in CapeTown, South Africa, also features Armitage. Also consider, “Jadé Fadojutimi: Jesture,” the artist’s first monograph.


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