Pruitt_Sarcophagus website

"Sarcophagus", 2019, Conté, charcoal & gold leaf on paper, 60” x 84”, unframed


The Majesty of Kings Long Dead

Robert Pruitt

Exhibition: August 1 - September 28, 2019

Artist Reception: July 31, 2019 - 5pm — 7pm

This body of work reflects an ongoing focus of subject matter from recent projects by Pruitt that utilize religion and spirituality as a means of exploring an African-American conception of transcendence and mythology. The Majesty of Kings Long Dead probes similar notions while expanding the artists own system of signs and symbols. Ideas of grandeur, holiness and divinity are introduced through depictions of makeshift crowns which dually indicate ennoblement and make reference to Egyptian burial traditions, gold chains and celestial systems.

Says the artist, “The show title comes from the 1920 Science Fiction short story ‘The Comet’, by W.E.B Dubois. In a passage near the end of the story, his protagonist, a Black messenger and laborer, comes to accept that he is the last man on Earth and is finally free of the constraints of racial subjugation. Dubois describes this growing awareness as thus:

‘Up from the crass and crushing and cringing of his caste leaped the lone majesty of kings long dead.’

This idea of a nascent majestic inheritance is at the root of this series of drawings. They are attempts to reposition systems of belief and mythos around a Black American identity. The works in this show seek to suggest a concept of a mythology of Black celestial sovereignty.” - Robert Pruitt

A self-described draftsman, Pruitt’s work often includes sculpture, drawing, and sound and video elements that project themes about the dichotomy of the black experience in America, and the impact of black cultural production on the global landscape.

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