Devin Troy Strother's "Flagrant Foul" Comes to Hong Kong
Following the fresh curatorial direction and new additions to their artist roster introduced during Art Basel week, Hong Kong's Over the Influence will be opening a major new exhibition of Devin Troy Strother's latest work entitled Flagrant Foul. Open for viewing on May 23, the new body of work is continuing the LA-based artist's efforts to celebrate black culture with a humorous approach and reinvention of stereotypes of the black entertainer image.
Strother's work is the direct result of his efforts to be a black artist and not make work that was interpreted as being about the black experience. Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in 1980s Southern California, he eventually chose to celebrate black culture with comedy and play with already fetishized representation of black people. Regularly portraying and depicting jazz or blues musicians, different elements of hip-hop culture, basketball players and other sportsmen, his work acknowledges that the foundation of "American Culture” is the African-American performers and entertainers. Working with a variety of techniques, regularly breaking the boundaries of the format or the medium, he is creating entertaining images that are blatantly playing with all the racial stereotypes he can think of. Feeling as if they're parodying the superficial approach to understanding the main point of his work, lengthy, often absurd titles such as Oh the Poetic Movements of the Ball to Ball Man Game is serving as the punchline to the visual joke that he set up.
Flagrant Foul is mostly focusing on basketball, the idea surrounding the black athlete, and the classic rags-to-riches scenario that is a part of modern American mythology. While presented as a unifying American story, Strother has a slightly different view of the beloved tale about a young black kid from a bad neighborhood who surpasses the systematic and economic barriers and becomes an icon. As the title of the show suggests, he exposes this aspect of contemporary culture as nothing more than another ongoing minstrel-scheme. Therefore, he systematically dismantles the stereotype of “natural black athleticism” in his work by putting in players of all races. He is even using a variety of techniques such as acrylic, caulking, oil pastel, cut watercolor paper, oil paint, or pencil, to bring out this diversity both on the court and in the crowd.––Sasha Bogojev
Devin Troy Strother's "Flagrant Foul" will be on display from May 23 to June 28, 2019, at Hong Kong's Over the Influence Gallery.