MILK2019. 40x50cm Acrylic on Canvas.
His name was Demetrius Anthony Fields, but we called him Milk. He worked with us while we painted in Philadelphia for almost two years. He also spent most of his time in Alder street where I lived, right next to where we were painting. About a year ago we heard that Milk had been shot by the police in our street. The police claimed he had a gun so Milk went to prison. The next thing we heard was that he had died in his cell about 6 months later. No-one can tell us why or what happened. I hadn't painted a portrait for a while but this was the best way for me to deal with losing my friend. The colors are cold, his expression is one of angst. I would have painted a more colorful depiction of how he was when he was alive, because he was energetic, charming and kind. But I couldn't. This portrait attempts to depict the cold and angst of a man dying alone in a prison cell. A wonderful person swallowed by an awful and discriminatory system. May you rest in peace Milk.
Jeroen Koolhaas 2019