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Los Angeles-based artist Devin Troy Strother wields humor with an acerbity not often seen in the prestigious exhibition spaces his work frequent.
With titles like “Gurrrl I’m just talking about that composition”, “Gurrrrl what’chu know about that post modernism”, Strother grounds his references and his art in the language and drollery of the ghetto. He refers to these titles as “the punchlines of the paintings”.
As for the paintings themselves, Strother’s style is characterized by the collaging and painting over of paper cutouts. The figurines of his paintings, which he fondly refer to as “little black people,” are rearranged in various fictive narratives or abstract spaces, oftentimes in blatant, even satirical reference to the works of other artists. His 2012 painting, “A Black Marina Abramovic in “I’m gonna fuckin’ shoot you with this arrow” “, for instance, references the 1980 performance piece, “Rest Energy”, by artists Marina Abramovic and Ulay.
Strother’s sculptures are magnified and monumentalized versions of his painted figurines, featuring his characteristic long-winded and humorous titles, such as “Look at my guuurl Shariece over there getting her shie on”.
Strother has frequently expressed his ambivalence towards the framing of his art as black art and of himself as a black artist. The majority of his work indubitably feature themes of black identity; however, the double standard stands that a white artist painting white subjects would not receive such scrutiny about racial identity. In a cultural context where white identity remains the default, Strother’s works are a poignant and accessible antithesis to intersectional elitism in the art world and society at large.