PLANETARY SURVEY: New Drawings
Exhibition Dates: March 2 – April 29, 2017
Artist Reception: First Thursday, March 2, 2017, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Artist Walk Through: Saturday, March 4, 2 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and by appointment.
Koplin Del Rio is pleased to announce Robert Pruitt’s fourth solo exhibition, PLANETARY SURVEY: New Drawings. This will be the artist’s debut exhibition at our new location in the Pacific Northwest.
Pruitt created this latest group of portraits during a period of back-to-back artist residencies, the most recent at The Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, this past fall. The show features works on paper—a combination of charcoal, conté and pastel on hand-dyed or coffee-toned paper—in a variety of sizes. The signature portraits blend elements of science fiction and technology with traditional African patterns and ceremonial sculptures. With this body of work Pruitt is particularly interested in the historic notion of “black escape,” a desire to be free from the literal and psychological constraints on the formation of black identity reaching back to slavery. With individual narratives, each figure becomes a conduit for Pruitt to further explore the possibility of a utopian existence rich with African culture and totems, living keenly in an ultra-modern western world.
In his statement for the exhibition, the artist writes:
This exhibition is a survey of the last two years of my drawing practice. The works on display maintain the signature stark compositions of my work and usual interplay between notions of futurism, traditional world cultures, contemporary black culture and politics. New to my process however is a reduction in the literal representation of these references and ideas. Adornments of headdresses, jewelry and costuming give way to more abstract representations in the form of, amongst other things, absurd hair designs recalling the constructions in the work of Bill Traylor, rocket engine call signs as tattoos and geometric patterning evoking masquerade costumes of Central and West Africa. Along with these references to the fantastic, I apply a deliberate and realistic rendering of the human body as the central axis in recovering an inherent Black humanity. - Robert Pruitt 2017
The work included In Planetary Survey: New Drawings, represents Pruitt’s own embellishment on the theme of “black escape”: “I pair this desire with my own escapist indulgence in science fiction and technology, a romanticized view of the disadvantaged black masses, and a nostalgia for a mythic Africa.”
Each portrait captures its subject in a moment of readiness, prepared to embark on a fantastic journey, an escape. Through various means – space flight, time travel, inter-dimensional portals – at long last they will reach their desired destinations transcending reality. Steeped in visual and thematic references to Afrofuturism and Afrocentrism, the pieces confer honor upon the tradition of imbibing music, art, literature and academia with futuristic themes as a means of exploring deeper social issues whichissues that speaks to a broader conversation for all peoples in our current point in history.
Pruitt has regularly exhibited since 1996. Although he describes himself as a draftsman, his art installations often include sculpture, drawing, and video works that project themes about the dichotomy of the black experience in America, and the impact of black cultural production on the global landscape.
Robert Pruitt was born in 1975 in Houston Texas. He received his BFA from Texas Southern University (2000) and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin (2003). He is a founding member of the Houston artist collective Otabenga Jones & Associates. He has had solo exhibitions at The Pennsylvania College of Art & Design; The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, Texas; McKinney Art Center, Dallas, Texas; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield, California; and most recently, University of Texas, Arlington, Texas(2016); Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana(2016); and coming up Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Kansas(April 2017).
Pruitt was a participating artist in the 2006 Whitney Biennial and the 2010 SITE Santa Fe Biennial, which traveled to MoMA PS1 in New York. He is a recipient of the Artadia Artist Award, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award and Joan Mitchell Foundation award (2013). Pruitt recently was awarded residencies at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art(2015) and The Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, Louisiana(2016).
Pruitt’s work is in the collections of The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; The Studio Museum of Harlem; the Dallas Museum of Art; the University Museum of Texas Southern University in Houston; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; and most recently the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas (2016); The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Massachusetts (2016) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2016).
For further information or photos, please contact Kimberly Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.