SEPTEMBER 12 - OCTOBER 19
OPENING: THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 12 6-8
Kumasi J. Barnett, Ronnie Cutrone, Henry Darger, Walt Disney Studios, Mort Drucker, Peter Dudek, Jesse (The Daily Don) Duquette, Hanna-Barbera Productions, David Humphrey, Ai Kijima, Leslie Lasiter, MR., Rebecca Morgan, Mark Mulroney, Joyce Pensato, Archie Rand, Josh Reames, Peter Saul, Michael Scoggins, Art Spiegelman, Alfred Steiner, William Steig, Martin Wilner
Co-curated by Charlotte Bravin Lee
“I wear a mask. And that mask, it’s not to hide who I am, but to create what I am.” —Batman, Batman Vol. 1 #624
Prior to being exposed to museums, galleries and “so-called” fine art, the cartoon is the primary art form, influence and experience from the cradle on. We set out to create a small show, a scoop of from a sea of artists inspired by making cartoons ands cartoon inspired images. For most every child, Saturday morning meant being parked in front of the TV for hours of Hanna-Barbera, Bugs and Daffy, Road Runner, Superman… the list is endless. Every artist grew up drawing cartoons and being glued to the TV and the now mostly defunct Sunday funnies.
Stan Lee’s Marvel Comic characters, the DC Universe, Archie and Jughead, Tom and Jerry, Mad Magazine’s Spy vs Spy, Looney-Tunes, South Park and Family Guy, and the counter-culture icons, Crumb and Zap are our seminal first exposures to art and drawing. Did I mention the list is endless?
The influence of the onomatopoeia of the POW and BLAM, the look of the intersecting speech bubbles, the graphic design of a strip, the heroes of DC and Marvel, the satire of MAD, animation, anime, and the exaggerated eyes of manga characters all can be seen in the work in this show. Several of the artists re-write their own narratives through this classic medium others are more interested in the graphics and structure of the strip.
Comics give us hope, make us laugh and provide heroes, which is especially important at a time when the world is in the grip of a cartoonishly evil villain.
We are pleased to have all the artists included but are especially pleased to have two original works by the living legend Mort Drucker. One of the great draftsman and portraitists of his time or any other, and a social commentator of the first rank in all history, Drucker is 90 and lives and works on Long Island, NY and if there's any justice, he should have a 50 pound book and a retrospective at MOMA or The MET.
October 3-6 wander over to the Javits center to see ComicConNY https://www.newyorkcomiccon.com - Our favorite section is Artist’s Alley
July 13 - August 17, 2019
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 13, 7-9pm
Lowell Ryan Projects
4851 West Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Lowell Ryan Projects is pleased to present The Amazing Black-Man, a solo exhibition by Brooklyn-based artist Kumasi J. Barnett. Riffing on classic superhero series including; The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Superman, Daredevil and Captain America, the show will feature several dozen hand-painted comic book works pinned up in their clear plastic sleeves. For each work, Barnett has painted over the cover of an old Marvel or DC comic book, replacing familiar heroes with characters including “The Amazing Black-Man,” “The Media’s Thug,” “Whitedevil,” and “Police-Man.” Barnett replaces Spider-Man’s full-body leotard with a hoodie and jeans, Superman’s logo with the stars and bars of the Confederate flag, and turns the supernatural villains into—a no less brutal nemesis—the police. Alteration here acts as an intervention. By addressing real world issues through a superhuman genre, Barnett’s work dissolves the disconnect between contemporary American narratives and the reality of “justice,” making us reexamine cultural conceptions surrounding the Good versus Evil paradigm.
A traditional comic book narrative is founded on simple plot structure: there is a villain that the police cannot contain, and so a citizen superhero steps in to save the day. Barnett clearly complicates this narrative. In a genre filled with rigid tropes, his work is imbued with ambiguities: What kind of superhero is The Amazing Black-Man? In a society built on systemic racism, does his brown mask hide his identity or define it? Is his costume actually a costume? More importantly, what are his super powers? How will he triumph over his foe? Pitted against menacing cops or else bound by chains and ropes, the character’s fate throughout the exhibition seems perpetually doomed; at the same time, by nature of being a series, it also does seem that he persists. Perhaps then, in a landscape of seemingly insurmountable police brutality, The Amazing Black-Man’s superpower is survival.
But then, is The Amazing Black-Man trying to save the world, or just himself? Character motive is a fundamental narrative question, and in this case one that forces us to reckon with a set of more theoretical considerations: namely, whether the former is even possible to attempt if one must do the latter. What does a black man’s constant need to protect his own body preclude? In America, the answer is too long for the page, too vast and varied for words. Yet that does not mean that it shouldn’t be sought. Authorship is a potent form of agency. Voice—whether written, painted, spoken, gestured, etc.—is a superpower anyone can harness. It can be wielded for Good or for Evil. It can be used to oppress, and also to fight back against oppression. In claiming authorship over traditional comic book narratives, Barnett seems quite aware of this; perhaps it’s why his work leaves the narrative open—in doing so, he invites viewers to join in the authorial act and finish writing the story themselves.
"STOP IT WHITEMAN! YOU'RE WRECKING THE WORLD!"
KUMASI J BARNETT
AT THE SPRING BREAK ART FAIR
“STOP IT WHITEMAN! YOU’RE WRECKING THE WORLD” presents the work of Kumasi J Barnett a Brooklyn based artist who is re-envisioning American pop culture through his overtly political yet ominously personal paintings.
In his new series Kumasi J. Barnett satirizes “The American Way” by appropriating and transforming familiar comic book imagery. Beloved heroes like Superman and Spider-Man are transformed into meta-cultural icons like The Amazing Black-Man or The Thug. These champions form a brutal hyper-realistic version of America today. Barnett is constructing a new subculture of heroes who take on a terrifying host of novel super villains. Stereotypes, prejudices, southern-pride, and killer police are all parts of Barnett’s new evil alliance, all attacking “The True American Heroes”.
Acquired from years of gathering, the comic books Barnett uses in this series are personal mementos sourced from his private collection. The collection includes recent purchases that revisit and re-engage the artist’s youth spent among the dusty shelves of comic book stores. By defacing these familiar comic books Kumasi puts his finger on the pulse of America today. We see here a schizophrenic America, one that celebrates and hates both our differences and our sameness.
In Barnett’s series, each comic is repainted to obscure and obliterate the original American icon. This allows a new and often terrible story to be built around a fragile and familiar American experience. The result is small nostalgic paintings that walk a fragile tightrope over pain, mockery, humor, and truth. Barnett’s work shakes the1 tightrope of culture that unites us all as Americans, both in its heroic iconography and stereotyped racism.