The late twentieth century saw an explosion, in every part of our public spaces, of unsanctioned “outlaw” art as well as the proliferation of Madison Avenue advertising. From August 18 - 30, 2011, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center, will bring us the Twenty-First century melding of these two worlds with the “Scrape and Peel” fine art of Lawrence Joyner, Tyson Hall, and Dean Richards. The show is curated by Bonnie Savage.
The twentieth century brought with it a new art form from the public stage. French and Italian cities birthed the “poster ungluers”- artists who ripped layers of public advertisement papers from billboards, city walls, construction sites, and subway stations. After recovering new “scrapes and peels”, the artists would then collage them together in violent cacophonies of words mixed with images layered and juxtaposed with other words and pictures. Originally the artist created a statement from pre-meditated material, whether it was with paint, a chisel, etc. But within this new expression came the genius of the artist re-fashioning what lay already used in the city and forgotten as trash. This refurbishing of public poster propaganda into representations of sex, class, struggle, and iconographic dreams created a new sub-part in naturalist art.
Reared within the graffiti era of 1970’s New York City, Lawrence Joyner, Tyson Hall, and Dean Richards are three artists who add to the evolution of both graffiti (tagging) and “scrapping and peeling” art forms, melding the two into a modern mixed medium genre. These men pay homage to the original “poster ungluer” artists such as Francois Dunfrene, Raymond Hains, Jacques de La Villegle, and Mimmo Rotella, and graffiti artists such as Lee Quinones, Keith Haring, Jean-Michael Basquiat, and Michael Martin. They focus their energies into fine art, which voice the struggles, hopes, and perspectives of the American man of African descent. The art also hails civil rights artist/ activists such as Emory Douglas and contemporary street artists like Shephard Fairey. These pieces create an art history narrative that blends the original collage technique of Berdain with each man’s individual painting expression. Their message is one that demands an introspective investigation.
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