1970s sitcoms, giant expanses of outer space, and stretches of asphalt appear and then collide in Cullen Bryant Washington, Jr.’s painted collages as thoughtful ruminations on the nature of blackness. Using a mash up of cultural references, from science fiction to his own Southern childhood through mixed-media, Washington channels the polyphonic nature of influence and identity in the content and form of his work.
Washington’s work evokes the painting and collage techniques of Romare Bearden and Jean-Michel Basquiatwith some of the deep black expanses and minimal forms of Richard Serra’s prints and drawings. In doing so, he melds the history of art into a broader discussion of race in popular culture today. Playing with the slippery meanings of both words and images with surprising and clever combinations, Washington underscores the complexities, contradictions, and even humor in the idea of culturally formed blackness.
Cullen Bryant Washington, Jr., Leverage, 2010
graphite and acrylic on paper
36 x 27 inches
Courtesy of the artist