"Justin Bryant: Color in Space"
at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, in Pine Bluff, features work by a native of that city who's gotten much deserved attention in the pages of the Arkansas Times
, which featured him in last year's Visionary issue
and in a cover story
about the exhibition "Here. African American Art from the Permanent Collection of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas."
"Color in Space" affords the opportunity to see more of the young artist's work, in which he combines details of architecture with his self-portrait, as seen in "Corinthian" above. From the catalog accompanying the show, his artist's statement:
My work reflects an aesthetic strategy that addresses the idea of color and space in relation to the African American consciousness. I am interested in the interchangeable aspects of color and space and how one can inform the other. Approaching the realm of painting as an illusion, I use paint to depict elements that exist in-between fading or appearing, embodied or disembodied. These characteristics relate a Black existential awareness that should be understood by proxy through elements of figure ground.
Bryant imparts the illusory nature of his subjects by painting with the wateriest of watercolors, translucent and dripping. He's explained the architectural elements he wears, sometimes as a crown, or, in "Untitled No. 11," as glasses, to refer, most literally, to structures built by black labor to support white lives. UALR artist David Clemons
explains that the architectural elements are also about "self actualization," symbols "loaded with notions of obligation, aspiration, history and prescience."
Bryant's use of color and his ability to render face and form are quite beautiful, so it doesn't fully matter if you immediately understand the burning brick columns or gimme caps topped with pediments. The show runs through Sept. 9.