• The Beauty of Being, The Beauty of Prospect

    By Jordan Reyes, December 2020

    “All art is political.” That’s a saying from my bandmate in ONO, frontperson and visual artist travis—a seventy-four-year-old queer, Black veteran from Mississippi. “Otherwise, it’s just a pretty thing,” he explains. For Black artists like travis, and our bandleader P Michael Grego, being political isn’t an option. Being alive and Black in the United States is political in itself, and being joyous and Black in the United States is revolutionary.

     

    Robert Pruitt’s work is alive, joyous, and often speculative, pulling from Black American life, history, science fiction, music, comic books, film, the natural world, and more. P Michael and I felt a kindred tug viewing Pruitt’s art, and news of the current exhibition sounded the siren of familiarity—for one, travis’ visual work appeared alongside Pruitt’s at a Hyde Park Art Center exhibition called Interstellar Low Ways back in 2006-2007, celebrating the life of visionary Saturnian jazz composer Sun Ra; for a second, our creations pull strands from a similar tapestry—a democratized rolodex of storytelling and artistic formats.

     

    For me, this crystallized while watching the Samuel Delany documentary The Polymath. In undergrad, I took a class by poet, theorist, and recently-christened Guggenheim genius Fred Moten. Delany’s Dhalgren was the second book we read, and I became obsessed, so Fred leant me his copy of the doc. I was already a deep, deep nerd with science fiction, comic books, video games, etc, but had a weird qualm regarding my nerdship—a shame, a hesitancy. Seeing a titan like Delany in The Polymath not giving a shit about format was illuminating. I mean, he’s the coolest. The story is the story—if it’s good, and the medium tells it well, next question. Poof—shame gone. It’s all science fiction, anyhow.

     

    Pruitt’s drawings operate similarly, interweaving tales spanning a massive, egalitarian continuum. They’re proud and cognizant of their DNA, meshing the beauty of being with the beauty of prospect. His art exhibits pride, boldness, limitlessness. Whether it’s a solar system colliding into a figure’s jewelry or clothing, a full-body space suit, the meshing of plant and person, or the head of a visored android held like a clutch, Pruitt’s art takes the day-to-day and opens the door to possibility.

     

    His figures alone are evocative, but arrange them side by side and his universe opens. Like the best science fiction writers, Pruitt is an expert worldbuilder. The mundane saddles up to the cosmic, to the spiritual, to the ancestral. I hear music blaring off a reclining figure’s phone. I feel the tightness and thickening blood in clenched fists. I smell the bittersweet body odor flaking off a dancer. In resplendent textiles, I read histories, observe the pilgrimage from plant to wearable.

     

    Pruitt’s drawings can be humorous, too, but that doesn’t mean they’re not serious. One figure’s red poncho hides a cache of weapons—sharp ends and gun muzzles peeking out the bottom. In another, an absurdist unicycle/stool hybrid holds a man’s head captive—its slender steel bars reminiscent of a jail. Pruitt constantly plays with and subverts expectations, making multiple viewings a must.

     

    Most overtly, the work is an affirmation—an affirmation of Blackness, of inquisitiveness, of history, of nerdiness, of storytelling, of physicality, of life itself. Pruitt’s figures and artwork are doorways into his universe and our shared history—if you bear witness, maybe you’ll find the knob—if you listen, maybe you’ll hear the choir.

     

     


     

    Robert Pruitt: Ad Infinitum

    December 10, 2020 — January 9, 2021

    Robert Pruitt’s first solo exhibition with Salon 94.

    Salon 94 Freemans (1 Freeman Alley)

    Wednesday – Saturday, 12pm – 6pm (Closed December 24 – January 1)

  • Price List

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  • the drawings are primarily streams of consciousness—studies that allow me to work out ideas for future drawings, play with a range of references and influences, AND exercise my preoccupations with the figure, Science Fiction, and Race. They happen quickly, usually no more than a day, though I periodically go back and rework some of them. Where my practice usually consists of larger scale images that derive from research based origins, these smaller works come from an experiential process that is centered on my own enjoyment of drawing.

     

    — ROBERT PRUITT, 2020

  • Robert Pruitt, Who me?, 2020

    Robert Pruitt

    Who me?, 2020

    SOLD

    • Robert Pruitt, Untitled (Red Mask, White Shoes), 2020
      Robert Pruitt, Untitled (Red Mask, White Shoes), 2020
    • Robert Pruitt, Ratio So Outta Control, 2020
      Robert Pruitt, Ratio So Outta Control, 2020
      $10,000.00
    • Robert Pruitt, Untitled (Couple), 2020
      Robert Pruitt, Untitled (Couple), 2020
      $10,000.00
  • Robert Pruitt, Defnd, 2020

    Robert Pruitt

    Defnd, 2020

    SOLD

  • Robert Pruitt, 2piece, 2020, SOLD

    Robert Pruitt

    2piece, 2020, SOLD

    $10,000

  • Most overtly, the work is an affirmation—an affirmation of Blackness, of inquisitiveness, of history, of nerdiness, of storytelling, of physicality, of life itself. PRUITT’s figures and artwork are doorways into his universe and our shared history—if you bear witness, maybe you’ll find the knob—if you listen, maybe you’ll hear the choir.

    —Jordan Reyes

  • Robert Pruitt, Diamond Princess, 2020

    Robert Pruitt

    Diamond Princess, 2020

    SOLD

  • Robert Pruitt, B. 1975

    Robert Pruitt

    B. 1975

    Robert Pruitt was born in 1975 in Houston Texas. He received his BFA from Texas Southern University (2000) and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin (2003). Robert Pruitt works in a variety of materials, with the focus of his practice centered on rendering large scale figurative portraits. He projects into those images a juxtaposing series of experiences and material references, denoting a diverse and radical Black past, present, and future. Pruitt often utilizes religion, spirituality, signs, and symbolic objects throughout his work as a means of exploring a Black American conception of transcendence and mythology.

     

    He has had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, PA; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; most recently at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA. Pruitt was a participating artist in the 2006 Whitney Biennial and is a winner of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award and Joan Mitchell Foundation award.

     

    Pruitt’s work resides in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; the Dallas Museum of Art, TX; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; and The US Embassy in Zimbabwe.