Gavin Brown just opened this past weekend a major large scale exhibition of new works by Rob Pruitt inaugurating a new exhibition space next door that expands the gallery to one entire city block. Titled Pattern and Degradation, the show comprises paintings, sculpture and installation.
Rob Pruitt’s exhibition Pattern and Degradation takes inspiration from the Amish tradition of Rumspringa, a Pennsylvania German term that directly translates to “running around.” During the Rumspringa, Amish adolescents are given the chance to temporarily explore the outside world before choosing to either return to the Amish lifestyle and be baptized, or leave their community forever. Folklore holds that this is a period when Amish youth engage in rebellious behavior, defying their culture’s strict prohibitions, and indulging in the excesses of mainstream American culture.
In Pruitt’s interpretation he is forever living a “Permanent Rumspringa” and filling an entire city block with the exploits. For Pruitt, this is the position of the artist: an unbridled human, indifferent to convention and with every avenue open to him - each possibility equal to all others. In Pattern and Degradation, Pruitt will debut several new bodies of greatly varied work continuing his exploration of American pop-culture, trying everything before it is too late. A series of paintings based on Amish quilts are made with spray paint and read like an amped-up version of classic Americana. Composite self-portrait paintings piece together various conflicting personae: masculine, feminine, artist, priest – creating a schizophrenic identity pastiche. Identity also becomes logo in a series of silk-screened paintings of t-shirts – Tom of Finland, Debbie Harry’s lipstick kiss, smears of paint from an artist’s studio, etc.
Rob Pruitt was born in 1964 in Washington, D.C., and has been exhibiting work internationally for the past 25 years. In 2009, in association with White Columns, Rob Pruitt conceived and presented his performance-based artwork “The First Annual Art Awards” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The second annual art awards will take place at Webster Hall in December 2010. Pruitt has been included in numerous exhibitions internationally including: “Pop Life,” Tate Modern (2010); “Mapping the Studio,” Palazzo Grassi (2009); “The Gold Standard,” PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2006); “Seeing Double,” Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA (2005); “Following and to Be Followed” Consortium, Dijon, France (2003); Shanghai Biennale 2002, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2002); “Vantage Point,” Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2001); “Protest and Survive!, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK (2000); as well as the seminal exhibition, ‘Post Human’, curated by Jeffrey Deitch, Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’ Arte, Contemporanea, Rivoli, Italy (1992).
Images by DaWire
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