"Drawing an Afro-Future with the Past and Present" by Daniel Gerwin
Hyperallergic, December 1, 2015
LOS ANGELES — There is no mistaking the depth of investment in Flight Risk, Robert Pruitt’s new show at Koplin Del Rio. Eleven drawings on paper in charcoal, pastel, and mixed media range from large to enormous, possessing an authority won through years of honing his draughtmanship. Made while Pruitt was on residency earlier this year at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, the finished works bear witness to a laser focus achieved during his stay.
Nine of the drawings contain imagery for which Pruitt is known: powerfully posed black men and women dressed in contemporary clothing, superhero uniforms, and space suits — outfits the artist has tweaked with additions ranging from power cables to guns, gang symbols to Basquiat references, along with traditional African fabric patterns and ceremonial sculptures. Although the motifs are familiar, these works differ from past efforts in two significant ways: the disparate references are more deeply interwoven than ever, and in the best pieces his drawing reaches a mastery that will make you catch your breath. Charcoal can be a sloppy medium (believe me, I’ve taught undergraduate drawing), but Pruitt precisely delivers the shine of a polished leather shoe, the sensuality of living flesh, or a soft cascade of feathers. Pentimenti are left visible where he has moved a foot, searched out the contours of a face, or changed his mind about a headdress. His looseness engenders a sense of freedom that prevents the drawings from feeling like a blinkered exercise in craft.
To read more: http://hyperallergic.com/257843/drawing-an-afro-future-with-the-past-and...