“ If you can just present very simply an image or form that can make someone smile, then you get to the universal…that is always the ultimate goal.” ROB PRUITT
With his subversive wit, Rob Pruitt takes a gentle animal out of its natural environment and re-contextualizes it into a riotous statement about preciousness. Hovering and possibly crossing over the brink of kitsch, I Love Bamboo (I hate you), 2002 challenges the construction of aesthetic value systems. Quoting Warhol’s classic ‘diamond dust’ paintings, Pruitt’s panda paintings, shimmer and gleam with manufactured elegance, ironic comments on what is truly of value. Indeed, Pruitt’s complex pandas are anything but black and white. While the panda bear’s appearance is meant to camflouage with its environment, Pruitt lends a sense of irony to the subject by overtly drawing attention to it through the ostentatiously sparkly surface. Riffng on ornamentation, referencing fashion design by embellishing the image and glamorizing it through visual representation, Pruitt displays unexpected contrast between the naturalism of the bamboo and panda and the artificial glitz and sparkle of glitter.
This sense of playfulness evoked in I Love Bamboo (I hate you), 2002, resonates throughout the artist’s oeuvre, describing his artworks as “blow-up versions of dining-room-table craft projects. I’ve made hundreds of paintings out of glitter. I’ve really enjoyed letting the world know that not everything is so mystified or so regulated to expertise—that you can make something really beautiful with a little ingenuity and some supplies from Michaels [craft shop].” (Rob Pruitt in conversation with James Franco, "Rob Pruitt", Interview Magazine, 2009) In this way, Pruitt’s panda bears become characteristic of the artist’s unyielding sense of playfulness, innovation, optimism and humor, which has ultimately turned Pruitt into an art world darling.