Dial World, Part 1: The Tiger That Flew Over New York City
Presented at David Lewis Gallery, "Dial World, Part 1: The Tiger That Flew Over New York City" brings together eight canvas-based multimedia assemblages realized by the late artist Thornton Dial. Heavily drawing on found materials—carpet, bedding, clothes, tin, and bone, to name a few—Dial's dense compositions address racial and socio-political struggles through expressive abstract patterns and figurative forms interwoven therein.
The exhibition takes its subtitle from The Tiger That Flew Over New York City [pictured], which Dial completed in 1990. Inspired by his first visit to New York, Dial used strips of painted carpet to render his impression of the metropolis. While white skyscrapers span the length of the frame, supporting them are rust-brown tenement buildings—a sharp indictment of the economic and racial inequalities laid bare in the urban landscape.
In the upper right corner, a tiger seems to prowl the rooftops, its patches of black and white fur camouflaging into the towering facades. The image of the tiger—which Dial used interchangeably to represent himself or a Trickster-type character—appears throughout his work. Here, its form suggests an in-between state: a being that's trapped, even as it flies through the air.
Thornton Dial, The Tiger That Flew over New York City, 1990. Oil and carpet on canvas on wood, 48 x 60 inches.