Western Project is proud to present a survey of works by Los Angeles artist Wayne White. Masterworks is comprised of selected paintings and works on paper from the first ten years of the White's signature word paintings. A traditionalist by trade (no computer or Photoshop) and armed with formidable drawing skills, White imbues every medium he touches, be it paper, canvas, bronze, wood or printmaking with his distinct, at times idiosyncratic sensibility. Abrasive, amusing or confrontational, his art pushes back at fine art assumptions and academic convention. A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, White has used his career to preserve the innate 'Americana' of his youth; be it with words, phrases, expressions or stories, his narrative presses towards beauty as a peak experience, as evidenced by the recent award winning documentary, Beauty Is Embarrassing, directed by Neil Berkeley.
Using framed offset lithographs from the 1960's and 70's, White inserts his voice as text into these readymades, forming a new American landscape; panoramic vistas rife with wit and insight. Working on mass-produced lithographs allows him to play with notions of the authenticity and conventions of painting while mirroring our cultural stories. Redeeming these mass produced items with words, White taps our collective memory of decorative pictures from the past while establishing a new clue or perverse quip of possible meanings. Good Looking People Having Fun With Out You is the earliest work in the exhibition, setting a tone derived from the artist's time working in the entertainment field. As one of the originators of the legendary 1980's television show, Pee Wee's Playhouse, White's humor reverberates through his art: Picasso's Ass Falling Off, "Honest Artists", and Tossed Off Crap, each chide our mythologies about cultural figures and/or interpersonal bad habits.
Sculptures such as Wood Burn Country Boy describe his adolescence in the bucolic back woods of Tennessee (and the influence of his time as an assistant to Red Grooms), and are countered by the large epic painting, High Dollar Rig; his autobiographic high-speed escape to New York City in the 1970's. We Were Partin' at the Lake and Some Girl Starts Freakin' Out, describes any generation: the excess of youth and the pains of growing into adult scenarios.
This survey of ten years of work is by no means comprehensive. It is an overview of works that speak of growing up in America where language and landscape are now inseparable. He tells tales of the good, the bad, and sometimes ugly struggles of youth and adulthood; dealing with the duality of the physical world or plainly, the Sugar and Bullshit of everyday life. Consider White a kind of psychedelic, punked-out Mark Twain, at times more poet, spinning a surrealistic vernacular of wisdom and mirth.
White is a current recipient of the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida. He is also the subject of the documentary film, Beauty Is Embarrassing: The Wayne White Story, directed by Neil Berkeley. He recently completed a site specific installation, Big Lick Boom, at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke, Virginia. He created series of live shows in Los Angeles at Café Largo and in New York at the Roseland Ballroom, entitled, "You're Supposed to Act All Impressed". White is in the collection of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, Detroit Art Museum, Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation in Los Angeles, Laguna Art Museum, among others. He has exhibited extensively throughout North America, most recently at the Marty Walker Gallery in Dallas, Herron School of Art and Design, Indianapolis, Rice University Houston, and in Germany, Naples, Italy and Zurich, Switzerland. A monograph of his work was released in 2009 titled: Wayne White: Maybe Now I'll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve edited and designed by Todd Oldham and published by Ammo Books, LLC. His work has been written about in ArtForum, Art in America, The New Yorker, The Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, The Oxford American, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Esquire, among many others.