LOOK WHAT I'VE DONE - ROB PRUITT WORKS 1989-2009
London / April 30 —June 30, 2009
Carlson is delighted to present Look What I’ve Done, an exhibition of the American artist Rob Pruitt.
Rob Pruitt (Washington D.C., 1964), who earned the reputation of the bad boy of the American scene of the early 1990s, uses an ambiguous statement, ‘Look What I’ve Done’, both childish and enthusiastic, as a way of inviting us to his retrospective that will also feature some new works, and that celebrates the artist’s career.
‘Look What I’ve Done’ appears as an apparently gentle request that disguises Pruitt’s characteristic compromise between his lucid – and often caustic – vision, and his exuberant, glamorous, and seductive creations.
The Panda paintings celebrate this world of contradictions, in which excess and soberness continuously swap places: on the one hand there is the appealing image of this sweet animal, depicted in glitter to enhance the endearing potential of such imagery; on the other, it recalls all the environmental dramas faced by such endangered species. A similar interplay of meaning is perceived in his Paris Hilton painting (Paris, 21st Birthday Party, Tiara 2004), in which the goddess of shallowness, depicted in black and white, with her luxurious dress reassembling an assortment of rags, and her aura reduced to its nothingness.
Pruitt continues exploring these inner paradoxes of our present times in his Jeans sculptures/esprit de Corps (2006-2009): initially denim trousers were a sturdy piece of garment worn by factory workers, and they became symbolic of mild protest against conformity; afterwards they were consecrated as the utmost fashionable (and often expensive) trademark of Western popular culture. Pruitt’s Jeans celebrate this bipolarity: they condense the labor energy through their rigid and heavy structure, while they express the symbolic value of capitalist culture and identity.
A similar approach can be identified in his United Nations Fountain, made out of water bottles from all over the world. It celebrates the decadence and death of our global and capitalistic era in the utmost expression of urban extravagance that is the decorative reservoir of water.
Even if the artist seems to defy optimism to its uttermost capacities, Pruitt’s lightness and merry spirit always find a way of returning to the surface. The Eternal Bic (2002) concentrates the festive atmosphere after friendly gatherings, together with his neon piece if life gives you lemonade, add vodka (2008). His art idea #102 Touch the Queen. (2009), after his Art Ideas You can Do Yourself, celebrates the gentle and friendly act recently done between the US and the UK with another happy appeal: that of becoming a self-made creator. And that homage to a self-made character is mostly expressed in his RIP, Jade Goody (2009) that deals in a Warhol-like attitude with a figure that was loved and hated by public opinion.
Rob Pruitt’s work has been exhibited at the PS1, NY; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Le Consortium, Dijon; at the Shanghai Biennale (2002), Shanghai and at the Barbican Gallery, among others.