Sunday, March 11, 2012

@The Armory Show: 297 Niggas on Linen

297 Niggas on Linen
Photo by Sandra Stephens
 In viewing The Armory Show in a flash, in the blur of the huge market/ showcase for 'serious' contemporary art a few works definitely caught my eye and some made me laugh. Some made me stop and some I had to go back to again and again. One of the ones I really enjoyed was Devin Troy Strother's '297 Niggas on Linen'.

What do I respond to in this work? I saw the work from a few feet away and was drawn by the pattern of flat black squiggles on a neutral tan textured ground. Moving in closer to admire said pattern, a mass of tiny stylized/ stylish black figures, the mentioned '297 Niggas', burst forth. In various poses and facial expressions suggested by different dots representing eyes and smiles, vaginas, nipples and anuses. The work is so tongue in cheek and delivered with an eye wink it wins you over. I went back to see it again and laughed.  I see it as standing in the legacy of Kara walker's work, which though brilliant, always makes feel slightly bad about myself.
Work from Strother's The Coloured Series

In visiting Strother's site I found a series of even more playful works tilted for example: 'The Coloureds Series Part 4: "Gurrrl I'm just talking about that composition, Gurrrrl what'chu know about that post abstraction?". The Nigga's, Coloureds, black shapes, or whatever is more comfortable to refer to them as when framed against art history and modern painting  is like a punchline that makes me stop after laughing and say 'Hold on, wait, what?!'
See more of his work here


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