Devin Troy Strother
Smoking and Painting
In the aptly named exhibition “Smoking And Painting,” at Broadway Gallery, Devin Troy Strother shows canvases and assemblages which are inspired not only by the titular activities but also Philip Guston and Strother’s own mother. In Black Night Painter (2021) [pictured], smoke from a joint laid upon an ashtray rises up in a thin, colorful stream before exploding into a wide swath of color across the top of the canvas, mirroring strokes an outstretched hand paints on the right side of the composition.
The large-scale Im Really Feeling Your Energy Right Now, Can We Run It Back And Fourth For A Lil Bit (2021), situated in the gallery’s backroom, showcases many of the zany qualities for which Strother has become known: cutout leopards, cars, loopy-armed basketball players, and sentient marijuana leaves pasted upon the canvas surface. But in this show, Strother also works to deviate from this pattern, training his attention on producing paintings proper. Inspired by Philip Guston’s work, in particular Talking (1979), in which a thick-fingered hand holds a smoking cigarette, Strother replaces Guston’s pink-fleshed figures with dark-skinned hands.
Another influence is on view, too: the artist’s mother, Josephine Coleman, a great lover of Christmas, who would buy figurines and paint them black, as dark-skinned tchotchkes were rare. Here, in a pair of works from the “Black is Beautiful Collection” series, Strother paints found pieces of kitsch black—including, in The Black Is Beautiful Collection Part 3 (A Little Bit Of Everything) (2021), a figure which wields a paintbrush and palette.
Devin Troy Strother, Black Night Painter, 2021. Oil and acrylic on linen, 20 x 24 inches.