Grunch in Bed
In Jamaal Peterman’s first solo exhibition in New York, soft bodies —specifically, Black and brown bodies—move through institutions, rendered symbolically as cold, geometric forms. The figures, who appear both faceless and without hands, are all accouterment, no essence: nothing but a hoodie, jeans, sneakers.
“Grunch in Bed” refers to the “Gross Universal Cash Heist,” first imagined in R. Buckminster Fuller’s book Grunch of Giants (1983) as abstract corporate megaliths that exercise outsize control over a society. In these works, too, innocuous abstract representations wield enormous power. In both watch what you watching (2020) and Fake News (2020), a geometric structure rendered in solidly primary and secondary colors sits atop a pair of rectangles, one recalling an elementary school wall, with white bricks scrawled over by childish crayon, the other, a prison, with a scarred, slit-windowed façade: both are forms of state architecture through which America funnels its citizens. Suburbia, with its bright-green lawns and perfect houses, looms like a threat: in Robin Hood (2020) [pictured], a figure faces off with a sharp-angled crowd of abstract shapes; in Wade in the water (2020), a small patch of green is splattered blood-red.
Jamal Peterman, Robin Hood, 2020. Oil paint, vinyl glitter, sand on canvas. 60 x 95 inches.