Danielle McKinney: Quiet Storm | Marianne Boesky

The painting I’ll remember most from my trip to New York late last month is pictured below. It’s called ‘Hold Your Breath’, and formed part of an impressive show by the young artist Danielle McKinney, who lives and works just over the river in Jersey City.

A resplendently orange robe-clad woman leans back in a moment of repose - head tilted up, eyes shut. The background is deep avocado green. Between two fingers of her raised right hand smoulders a cigarette, its burning end picked out in a livid blob of orange. Her fingernails are deep orange too. She’s luxuriating in the moment, somehow.

Danielle McKinney ‘Hold Your Breath’ (2024)

There are twelve paintings in the show, twelve different women, with a shared attitude. None speak or engage with their surroundings. They seem tranquil, grounded, confident in themselves. It matches the mood of the show’s title: Quiet storm is a genre of silky smooth, 70s and 80s RnB music.

The show notes go further and reference Francisco de Zurbarán’s silent martyr portraits as matching McKinney’s mood. Henri Matisse is another influence, which the artist makes clear by making one of her models match the pose from the French master’s ‘The Dance’ - and depicting the painting in the background of another work.

Perhaps it’s the gallery-standard whiff of Diptyque candle, perhaps it’s the beautiful powder-purple walls, perhaps it’s some atmospheric overspill from this moneyed part of town - but McKinney’s exhibition seems charged with a sense of high luxury. Most likely it’s in the paintings. It’s in those deep avocado green interiors, the gorgeous wood panelling, the Matisse. Maybe - most likely - it’s something to do with the attitude of these solitary women within the interiors.

The protagonist of ‘Hold Your Breath’ is placed directly opposite the entrance. She’d be staring us down as we walk in, if she noticed. But she’s enjoying the moment with herself, her luxurious robe, her cigarette. We don’t register.

Danielle McKinney: Quiet Storm is at Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York City). 04 - 27 April 2024