Massimo De Carlo gallery in London inaugurates its new season with The Suicide Paintings by American artist Rob Pruitt. Pruitt in his third show at Massimo De Carlo presents new paintings that explore infinite space and blankness, purity and pollution, and optimism and desperation. The work in the show represents a culmination of previous bodies of work, from his fountains to face paintings. While so much of Pruitt’s previous work has dealt with cultural subject matter, in this new body of work, content has been drained, leaving only a psychological and emotional residue.
Spread around the exhibition are a number of chromed TV Sets: having become useless as means of information and entertainment, replaced by flat screen TVs, these objects from the 80s and the 90s survive through their shape, reconstructed with a glamorous and glittery patina. Even this body of works refers to the classics: these TV sets deliver a strong sense of nostalgia.
These new sculptures are standing on hundreds and hundreds of black and white cubes. Part sculptures themselves, and part plinths for the other works in the show, these cubes are configuring a new modular system of exhibiting Rob Pruitt’s sculptures through a new radical, pixelated signature pedestal. These cubes can even take the form of a new floor for one of the rooms in the basement of the gallery, as if Carl Andre had suddenly turned digital.
In the new paintings, two gradient fields of colour are juxtaposed, creating a picture within a frame. The images suggest both heavenly and hellish vistas, evoking everything from the clouds in a Botticelli painting to the screensaver on an iPad. While the gradient fields suggest depictions of space and the changing times of day, they are also a visual metaphor for transitioning psychological states.