PATTERN AND DEGRADATION
Gavin Brown’s enterprise is pleased to present Pattern and Degradation, a major
exhibition of new works by Rob Pruitt. Opening on Saturday, September 11th,
Pattern and Degradation will occupy the entirety of GBE's newly expanded
galleries, as well as the neighboring gallery Maccarone, Inc. Encompassing
8,200 square feet and stretching an entire city block, the expanded GBE will
mount a succession of ambitious exhibitions and host concurrent shows across
three exhibition spaces.
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!’ 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.
Pruitt translates this season’s Ikea wall art into lush, semi-abstract oil paintings,
and with Pollock-like squirts of paint Pruitt “ices” photo transfers of Cinnabuns.
For a new sculpture project he recycles bundled stacks of flattened cardboard
into anthropomorphic monsters with enormous googly eyed stares, and the
artist's iconic panda returns in large-scale pattern paintings like enormous
swatches of custom designed fabric.
Rob Pruitt is the artist for our time, creating and living at a moment when the
American experience is both preeminent and stagnant. Rather than feel defeated
by the diminished cultural legacy left to us, Pruitt has embraced it. He loves the
cynicism, bathes in the stupid, lies down with the empty, turns the other cheek,
and asks for an autograph. He has no answers, so he offers a joyful moment of
flat, ridiculous glitter. His love of life and seeming flippancy are forms of modern
wisdom - a radical, smiling response to an intolerable situation and a giddy
challenge to those who have given in.
About the Artist
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
In March 2010, ABRAMS published Pruitt’s first comprehensive monograph, Pop
Touched Me. A testament to Pruitt’s perseverance, versatility and talent, the
book surveys almost 25 years of the artist's work and reflects his influence upon
a generation of younger artists.