Robert Pruitt New Drawings

06.26–08.16.2024
Robert Pruitt | New Drawings
Salon 94 89th Street

His works are like portals, weaving themes of science fiction, Black American culture, comic-book graphics and myths in to each storied composition.

Installation Views

Artwork

Robert Pruitt: New Drawings

New Drawings, Robert Pruitt’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, presents three heroically scaled works and two intimate studies. An expansion of his visual vocabulary, these recent works experiment with material, form, and composition; Pruitt incorporates gold paint, constructs multi-panel compositions, and explores exaggeration on the edge of real. Built from memory, intuition, and observational experience, these drawings continue Pruitt's exploration of Black identity and cultural heritage, and the interplay between the mundane and the fantastical.

Sister with snail Shirt (2024) continues Pruitt’s practice of using natural objects and creatures—such as dandelions, lemons, and moths—as adornments affixed to figures as armor or costuming. The statuesque woman’s top is alive, crawling with oversized milk snails, a common garden snail from the artist's childhood memories. The creatures become their own pattern or fabric, though magnified in scale to mirror the outsized or inflated way certain memories sit in our minds. Pruitt is thinking through the boundaries between fashion and masquerade, playing with adornment as material for ritual, presentation, and style. Furthermore, Sister with a snail shirt, is a reflection of how identity, culture, and memory can form one’s character and personhood and simultaneously serve as cover and protection.

The exhibition’s two studies, Man with 4 eyes and Woman with ceramic headdress from TSU offer a glimpse into the artist's evolving visual language and conceptual explorations. While they incorporate familiar elements from Pruitt's oeuvre, such as masking and headdresses, these works push beyond established tropes. In Man with 4 eyes, Pruitt playfully exaggerates the common "third eye" motif, adding a fourth eye to create a striking and surreal portrait. Woman with ceramic headdress from TSU describes an undergraduate experience:

The ceramic referenced in this work is based on an actual object in the museum art collection where I did my undergraduate studies, Texas Southern University. The clay works in this collection are strange, surreal, and abstract and rooted in the social and political ideas of the 1960s and 70s. They were displayed through the art building during my studies and hold a considerable space in my memory. I am starting to include them in my work as sacred objects, Pruitt states.

In New Drawings, the artist invites the viewer into a world where memory and observation collide, where the mundane and the extraordinary coexist, and where the surreal is probed. The through line of Pruitt’s signature style remains; his meticulous hand renders lone but powerful figures that exist simultaneously in our world and another, more ethereal plane. His works are like portals, weaving themes of science fiction, Black American culture, comic-book graphics, and myths into each storied composition.

Robert Pruitt was born in 1975 in Houston, Texas. He received his BFA from Texas Southern University (2000) and MFA from the University of Texas at Austin (2003). Pruitt works in a variety of materials, with the focus of his practice centered on rendering large-scale figurative portraits. He projects onto his images a juxtaposing series of experiences and material references, denoting a diverse and radical Black past, present, and future.

For additional information on this exhibition, please contact Caroline Currier (caroline@salon94.com)