If there was ever a year/month/week to talk about the absurdity of commerce and the myth of power, wow, what a moment. I'm not sure if UK-based artist Penny had this in mind when he prepped his new solo show, Broke, on view by appointment only for Bay Area residents at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco from January 9—30, 2021, but his combination of paper money aand its juxtaposition with famous pop-culture iconography and past masters paintings rings strong right now. After a year where we all have begun to wonder about our financial security, the strength of the wealthy class and the value of art like never before, Broke is an eccentric look at these systems. 

From the gallery: Working with humble materials - paint, paper and a scalpel - Penny achieves mind bending and intricate compositions. Seamlessly blending pop culture iconography with social commentary, each piece is created with dozens of hand cut stencils layered on currency. The tongue in cheek nature of the artist’s work often depicts Her Majesty the Queen - blended with Marge Simpson, pixelated and obscured or assuming the visage of Magritte’s subject in the iconic Son of Man. Tackling darker and prevalent social issues for the exhibition - Marty McFly’s DeLorean burns across a confederate bank note from the 1860’s, tools of police violence are emblazoned across the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a five dollar bill, “Sorry We’re Closed” obscures Washington’s face on dollar bill.

A continuation of Penny’s commentary on commodity, wealth, and capitalism, his most recent series of works depict replicas of famous paintings from art history with key elements “stolen” and excised from the work. A conspicuously missing crown from Basquiat’s “Pez Dispenser” dinosaur and the famed pearl earring from Vermeer’s most notable portrait have been snatched from their frames - begging the question, what is valuable? 

BROKE - a solo exhibition by Penny
On View: January 9 - 30, 2021

Private, in-person appointments available for Bay Area residents can be made here