303 Gallery is proud to announce our first exhibition of new paintings by Rob Pruitt. Titled “These Are the Days of Our Lives,” Pruitt’s exhibition comprises five bodies of work, which collectively reflect upon the tumultuous, unforeseen changes of the past two years as they have unfolded across political and public realms, as well as the artist’s personal life.
Two years of calendar paintings form the structural basis for the exhibition, an outgrowth of a project begun in 2014 as daily marker drawings on Massimo Vignelli’s Stendig calendars, recording deadlines, appointments, shopping lists and inside jokes. Over time the project has evolved in content and style, from drawing directly on the paper calendar itself to, as in these latest works, silk-screening the calendar graphics onto canvas, to then be filled in with hand-painted images and texts. The paintings record the final years of the Trump presidency and the Biden victory, the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic, and personal events in the artist’s life throughout. Birthdays of celebrated, public figures occupy much space, tying daily life to a collective, cultural history.
Interspersed throughout this chronology are paintings from four other projects, appearing at the dates in which they came to be, beginning with the cut-out Mask paintings. Double-stacked canvases are sprayed with geometric patterns and gradient fields of color before Pruitt cuts out and slices facial features in the top canvas, revealing the contrasting patterns and colors of the canvas below. Made during the Covid-19 lockdown, the paintings are like masks over masks, hiding fears and projecting a delirious escape.
Gradient paintings of the California desert are based on photographs taken by the artist at the end of 2020. Arranged in a grid to resemble a calendar, the work reflects on the dusk of the Trump era and beginning anew with Biden’s election.
In the latest evolution of his glitter Panda paintings, Pruitt approaches his familiar subject by way of his collection of figurines, toys, and stuffed animals, most of which were given to him as gifts over the years. Arranged like frenetically crammed group photographs – think family reunion, a school class, a cast of actors, a sports team – the figures blend into one another as they huddle together, expressing a longing for closeness in a time of isolation.
The artist’s newest body of work, Home paintings, also take their cue from the accumulation of belongings. Reflecting upon his mother’s experience over the past two years with dementia and a related hoarding compulsion, Pruitt’s Home paintings stack brushstrokes like collected objects, piled up against gradient fields of space. The marks act as metaphors for hoarded items – in the service of nothing, they attest to a fear of loss in multiple forms: loss of control, loss of memory, and ultimately the loss of life.