BLACK: New Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture
Mar 31 - Apr 28, 1990
First Press Release
The upcoming Robert Arneson exhibition initiates a new theme for the artist: racism. After working for a number of years articulating his concerns about the arms race, Arneson has turned his attention to depictions of Black Americans and to the issue of racial stereotyping. The result is the most challenging exhibition of the artist's long career.
The exhibition consists of a few small-scale sculptures, but it is dominated by a large number of drawings on paper and canvas that are among the finest Arneson has ever made. In a statement about the show, Arneson writes:
My recent images of Black Americans in black and white and white and black are hard looking- looking hard “ confronting our perceptual awareness and attitudes toward the national dilemma- racism.
The Arneson exhibition opens on March 31st and continues until the 28th of April. The gallery hours are 10 to 6, Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 to 5:30 on Saturdays.
Second Press Release
The works in Robert Arneson's current exhibition deal with one facet of racism, namely the use of negative stereotypes in presenting image of black males in the media. Arneson deliberately chooses some of the most ingrained of these negative images and re-uses them in such a way as to make us think about how we see. A mug shot, for example, is one of the most debasing ways of presenting a person, so Arneson takes a much shot of Willie Horton and re-draws it with the title "Special Assistant to the President" as a comment on the way the Willie Horton image was appropriated by the Bush campaign. Across the face of a photo of Turone Robinson, the accused murderer of Huey Newton, Arneson sketches a praying mantis- - an insect known for its practice of "eating its own" - - a reference to the mores of the drug culture. On the powerful image of another black male, Arneson scrawls "C E O“ the man turns out to be a rap musician whose "company" is the rap group Full Force.
The two ceramic pieces in the exhibition announce the theme of the show: a white-glazed portrait bust labeled "Rapist & Drug Dealer" and a black-glazed portrait bust labeled "Chief Executive Officer." Taken together the sculpture and the drawings in the exhibition tell us something about how the use of negative stereotypes in the media has worked on our perception of the black male. Arneson says of his works in this exhibition: "My recent images of Black Americans, in black and white about white and black, are hard looking - - looking hard - - confronting our perceptual awareness and attitudes toward the national dilemma of racism."