How Amar Stewart, Hip-Hop Painter and Cancer Survivor, Spends His Sundays


Three years ago, the British-born painter Amar Stewart, who has portrayed hip-hop artists dressed as 17th-century aristocrats, battled Stage 4 skin cancer. He lost part of his tongue, 11 teeth and lymph nodes in the process. He’s had operations since then to be able to speak again, while continuing to work full time as a painter.

Mr. Stewart is currently the artist in residence at the Freehold, a gastro pub and lounge in Williamsburg, where paintings are on display that he worked on when he had cancer. “They show different stages of my emotions,” he said. Mr. Stewart, 34, lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, with his black cat, Ella, and a roommate, Matthew Carbognin, 25, who works in international sales.

EARLIER THAN USUAL Most people sleep in on Sundays. I wake up earlier than my usual 10:30 and make myself get out of bed at 9. I have lots of housework to do today, but I also want to make sure that I have enough time to paint, so I push myself to get up. I’m British so I can’t start my day without a big cup of PG Tips tea, which I’ve been drinking since I was a kid.

STUDIO SESSION A lot of artists work from home, but I like the idea of having a studio where I’m only surrounded by my art and have no other distractions. I found a great little space in an artist’s loft that’s just a 10-minute walk from my apartment. I’ll head there midday and immerse myself in painting for at least for a few hours. So much of my work is inspired by hip-hop music so I always have hip-hop playing in the background. Maybe something by J Dilla, Biggie, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Kiefer or Madlib.



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