Devin Troy Strother at Marlborough Contemporary 2017
Marlborough Contemporary is pleased to present Bag It Up and Sell It, a solo exhibition of painting and sculpture by Los Angeles-based artist Devin Troy Strother.
Strother’s work has long explored the intersection of contemporary art and the depiction of African Americans by the broader media. However, as the exhibition’s title signals, the most recent pieces emphasize a critique of the art market, as well as the pressure and influence economics can place upon an artist’s output.
The paintings are created in accreted layers of printed text, found images, cut-out figures, and skeins of paint which have been poured flat, dried and applied like blankets to the surface. In this configuration, quotes from Dave Chapelle (the comedian whose rejection of the commercial aspects of his art are well documented) are draped in Lynda Benglis-like swirls of pigment making an unexpected connection between two dissident innovators. Compressing these types of seemingly polarized references into a single picture plane, Strother acknowledges the anger that is so often adjacent to humor and the marginalization that can necessitate technical progression.
More provocative is the work which gives the show its title., and is comprised of 10 kilos of small cellophane drug baggies, each filled with tiny fragments of paint and found images. In reference to Felix Gonzales-Torres’ candy-spill elegies to those lost to AIDS, Strother finds a potent analogue in the ongoing drug crisis and its particular implications for black people. In crossing these highly charged currents, the artist activates subject and form to powerful effect.