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  • Provenance

    Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Most famous today for his glittery pandas, Rob Pruitt has had his fair share of notoriety. He was shunned by the art world in the early 1990s after a collaborative exhibition at Leo Castelli that was widely denounced as racist; he returned to prominence no less quietly in 1998 with Cocaine Buffet, inviting gallery visitors to partake in a 16-foot line of the titular substance.

    In the present lot we find him in more gentle mode. From a large series of sketchily drawn faces on a spectrum of Day-Glo backgrounds, Pruitt’s simple and expressive strokes create a visage that recalls the elegant economy of Picasso’s line drawings. ‘I love minimalism, and I also love melodrama. So with my face paintings, I combined the two. First I make a shifting colour, gradient backdrop – colour is one of the best ways to express emotion – and then I draw a face. Sometimes the lines of the face are steady and bold, sometimes they skip and falter. I just go with my emotions, which are always changing. What results, whether the simple lines of a smiling face over a pastel blush, or a sorrowful cry dashed over a range of fiery reds, really paints a story, not just a picture.’ (Rob Pruitt in Faces, People and Pandas, exh. cat., Milan: Massimo de Carlo, 2012).

    Country Boy’s vivid hues have the quality of desktop background as much as of Colour Field painting; the sparely outlined face mimics a throwaway doodle, but is born from an Expressionist impulse of gestural emotional outpour. Pruitt continues to confound expectations. Facing us in alarming intensity of scale, his seemingly anodyne sketch presents a vision of surprising depth and sensitivity.

1

Country Boy

2011
acrylic, enamel paint, flocking on canvas
289.6 x 228.6 cm (114 x 90 in.)
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Estimate
£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £80,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 29 June 2015 7pm