Denyse Thomasos

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Denyse Thomasos clock In progress
BornOctober 10, 1964
DiedJuly 19, 2012
New York City, New York, United States
Known forPainting

Denyse Thomasos (October 10, 1964 – July 19, 2012) was a Trinidadian-Canadian painter known for her abstract-style wall murals that convey themes of slavery, confinement and the story of African and Asian diaspora. "Hybrid Nations" (2005) is one of her most notable pieces that features Thomasos' signature use of dense thatchwork patterning and architectural influence to portray images of American superjails and traditional African weavework.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Denyse Thomasos and her family immigrated to Canada in 1970, settling in Toronto, Ontario. Her father obtained a master's degree in physics from the University of Waterloo and was a high school teacher.[3]

In 2010, Thomasos married filmmaker Samein Priester at St. Basil's Church in Toronto, Ontario a year after the couple were married at City Hall in New York.[3] The couple adopted their child, Syann, in June 2010.[4]

Thomasos died suddenly at age forty-seven, due to an allergic reaction during a diagnostic medical procedure.[5]


She received her MFA in painting and sculpture from the Yale School of Art in 1989, after attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, in 1988. She received her BFA from the University of Toronto Mississauga where she studied painting and art history.[5][6] [7]

Career and works[edit]

Thomasos won more than twenty awards over the course of her career, ranging from the Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 1995, to a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1997, to a Millennium Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, to the first McMillan/Stewart award from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2009. She was a professor at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia,[8] and then (beginning in 1995), Associate Professor of Art at Rutgers University's Arts, Culture and Media Department.[5]

In 1994, Thomasos installed a mural entitled "Recollect" at contemporary artist-run centre Mercer Union in Toronto, Ontario. Her painting "Babylon" (2005) was acquired by Carr Hall at St. Michael's College in Toronto, Ontario.[3]

Thomasos' exhibitions included "Inside" (2015) at Blackwood Gallery at the University of Toronto Mississauga; "60 Painters" (2011) at Humber Arts & Media Studios in Etobicoke, Ontario; "Formerly Exit Five: Portable Monuments to Recent History" (2010) at the University of Saskatchewan College Art Galleries in Saskatoon; "From Superjails to Super Paintings" (2010) at Olga Korper Gallery; "Swing Space: Wallworks" (2007) at the Art Gallery of Ontario; "Tracking: Bombings, Wars & Genocide: A Six Months Journey from New York to China, Vietnam, Cambodia & Indonesia" (2004) at MSVU Art Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and "Rewind" (2004) at the Art Gallery of Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Thomasos' work is in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario.[9]

Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto, Ontario hosted a memorial exhibition of her work in November 2012. Another posthumous show, "Urban Jewels," was hosted in 2013 at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario, curated by Ben Portis.[8]

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomasos, Denyse; Jenkner, Ingrid; Nourbese Philip, Marlene; Verna, Gaëtane; Sirmans, Franklin; Mount Saint Vincent University; Art Gallery; Foreman Art Gallery (2006). Epistrophe: wall paintings. Lennoxville, Québec: Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop's University. ISBN 978-0-9736674-6-2.
  • Thomasos, Denyse; Chainey Gagnon; Art Gallery (2004). Tracking: thirty years in Canada, thirty years in Trinidad : Denyse Thomasos. Lennoxville, QC: Art Gallery of Bishop's University = Galerie d'art de l'Université Bishop's. ISBN 978-0-9693418-6-4.
  • Mitchell, Joan; Fishman, Louise; Korman, Harriet; Meyer, Melissa; Moser, Jill; Thomasos, Denyse (2009-01-01). Before again: Joan Mitchell, Louise Fishman, Harriet Korman, Melissa Meyer, Jill Moser, Denyse Thomasos. New York: Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.