Indepth Arts News: |
"Tony Gray: The New Black is Black"
2003-07-10 until 2003-08-10
Atlanta College of Art, Woodruff Arts Center
USA United States of America
Atlanta College of Art Gallery is pleased to present the work of New
York-based African-American artist Tony Gray, for the first time in the
Southeast. The New Black is Black includes selections from Gray’s "Panthers," "Black
Fairy" and "Mermaid" series, works on paper — painting, drawing and collage
— that critique matters of race, gender and history. In the "Panthers"
series, for example, Gray layers materials that include drawings,
photographs, print-reproductions and pop culture ephemera on op-design
Starring the resplendently Afro-ed Panthers in their
bell-bottomed glory, the collages capture the flair and un-self-conscious
enthusiasm of teen bedroom walls — the homemade stage-set of American
adolescence — circa 1973. Patterning nostalgia and critique equally, the
images effect a dialogue on expectations both historical and contemporary
about race, representation and identity.
Attuned to the semiotics of race and fashion, Gray’s painted and collaged
"Black Fairy" series contrasts images of fairies — in fancy get-ups from the
1960s and ‘70s — with faceless slave figures who lurk like small ghosts in
the background. Disarmingly simple and colorful, the fairies are radicalized
beyond their surface fabulousness by the contrast, speaking to black
middle-class aspirations and the history that informs it.
In the "Mermaid" series, rendered in colored pencil and paint on wood panels,
Gray’s stylized mermaids and –men unfurl against translucent, shimmering
surfaces. As with the fairies, Gray draws the mer-figures on paper, cuts
them out and collages them onto painted backdrops. In both cases, black
bodies complicate fairy-tale contexts, and figures of the childhood
imagination come alive again with social and cultural vigor. The work is
simultaneously playful and critical, modest and accomplished, smart and
disarming. Critic bell hooks writes that "Gray’s work interrogates by subtly
Born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1957, Tony Gray has a BA from the University of
California – San Diego and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts
– Valencia. Gray studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and
has received additional grants and fellowships from The Santa Fe Art
Institute, The MacDowell Colony and Art Matters, Inc.
Tony Gray's work has been exhibited widely in New York, in solo and group
exhibitions at: Debs & Co., Brent Sikkema Gallery, DFN Gallery, PS. 122,
Katonah Museum of Art, the New School for Social Research, Longwood Arts
Gallery, White Columns, Art in General and Apex Art; his work has also been
presented nationally at: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco,
CA, Byron Cohen Gallery, Kansas City, MO, Boston Center for the Arts,
Boston, MA, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, Allston Skirt Gallery, Boston, MA,
Bass Museum of Art, Miami, FL, the University Museum, University of
California – Santa Barbara, CA, and Hallwalls Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Gray has
garnered critical attention in the New York Times, Time Out New York, The
New Yorker, Artforum, Art Issues, Los Angeles Times and Interview. Tony
Gray lives and works in New York City.
ACAG presents Tony Gray: The New Black is Black during the 2003 National
Black Arts Festival!
Black Fairy, 2001
Colored pencil, wood veneer, acrylic on panel,
36" x 25"
Courtesy the artist