Marlborough Chelsea is excited to present a solo exhibition by Los Angeles based artist, Devin Troy Strother. For his second show with the gallery, Strother will present new large scale paintings and sculptures. The exhibition’s title, Space Jam is taken from the hit 1996 film starring Michael Jordan and the Looney Toons. Conceptually Strother looked towards Space Jam as a sentiment, a film he grew up with, but also a play on words: “space” in relation to being challenged with Marlborough Chelsea’s large space, and “jam” as a verb meaning to do something quickly, art and growth in this case.
The galleries will be paved with three different floors, two replicating proper basketball courts, and one of stock carpet depicting outer space, typically for outfitting movie theaters or children’s daycares. The paintings and sculptures further Strother’s existent artistic lexicon, which challenges stereotypes, and points to pop culture and art history.
Strother explores the idea of basketball not necessarily as a sport or form entertainment, but rather an aesthetic: the hats and trading cards that have hologram stickers, the flags that are strewn about a stadium, the souvenir cups that visitors take with them. All of these important symbols at an event have transpired into Strother’s paintings. There is also the allusion to space, from the exhibition’s name to the gradients in the paintings that reference Jordan’s limbo state in the film. The feeling of the unknown and darkness are ever present.
Strother’s new paintings continue to depict basketball players and portraits paired with hilarious and sharp titles. In this new body of work, he has incorporated holograms, gradients and impasto paint depicting faces and figures. With titles referencing contemporary artists such as Rob Pruitt, Cory Arcangel and Lynda Benglis as well as historical painters such as Barnett Newman, Joan Miro and Jackson Pollock, the artist pays homage to those who are before him while incorporating his personal aesthetics and evolving their inspiration on his work. He includes his name in the titles side by side to these artists, providing the audience with an anchor to the past but a porthole into the most current. The paintings are personal, Strother incorporates humor and language relevant to his peers and does not shy from the outrageous.
The artist continues his exploration of leaning sculptures (evocative of John McCracken) this time of 1990s basketball greats. There are also monoliths, taken from the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey that stand tall and dominate the viewer. Strother thinks of these in terms of stand alone sculptures, but also as pedestals, ones you can put objects on. They are highly polished, shiny and have a presence much like that of basketball players on court. In this instance, they will substitute as the basketball players on this court.