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photographs by Brittany Ambridge
text by Caroline Biggs
Her bold, brightly colored canvases are showcased in leading galleries and collections around the world.
When British-American painter Sam McEwen left her London home for New York more than three decades ago, she gained a fresh perspective that enhanced and challenged her notions of art. “What I saw in the States made me feel that it was really about the ‘now,’ about what was really going on in your own life,” McEwen says. “It proposed the idea of actually being an artist.”
It wasn’t long before McEwen’s large-scale abstracts won respect in the booming Manhattan art world of the 1980s. Represented by renowned dealer Tony Shafrazi, McEwen befriended such celebrated painters as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kenny Scharf. “It was a great place to start,” she recalls.
Despite New York City’s influence on her early work, McEwen’s roots are firmly planted in London, where she currently resides. In fact, she says, it’s that European-American binary, the traditional-versus-modern tug-of-war, that has shaped her character—and her art. “I think the cultural duality is exactly where I sit,” she says. “Complicated and romantic, quite abstract and broad at the same time.”