Kerry James Marshall

Untitled (Rythm Mastr), 2016
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
19.10.2016 – 29.01.2017

Over the course of three and a half decades, Kerry James Marshall has produced a complex body of work exploring the representation of African Americans in society, culture and art history. Working across various media in portraits, interiors, nudes and landscapes, Marshall conflates actual and imagined events from African American history and culture and integrates a range of stylistic influences to address the limited historiography of black art.

For Le Grand Balcon, Marshall has produced a new series of lightboxes that are a continuation of his well-known work Rythm Mastr, a comic strip featuring scenes in the neighbourhood of his studio, downtown close to a museum, and in a theatre. His varied characters are black urban dwellers, including a titular superhero who battles the forces of evil using a combination of futuristic and traditional African accoutrements.

“The Rythm Mastr project has been under development since 1999, first as an installation, then as a conceptual project titled Dailies comprising three cartoon strips: Rhythm Mastr, P-Van-, and On The Stroll. These overlapping comics all take place in ‘Black Metropolis’—the long dreamed-of capital of the ‘Black World’—and are written in Black vernacular English. The comics form provides a vehicle for talking about all manner of subjects. The use of a ‘Black speech’ inflection to talk about theory, history, and culture short-circuits anti-intellectual assumptions that usually attach to people who use ‘ebonics’.”—Kerry James Marshall in Esopus Magazine (2010)

Presented by La Biennale de Montréal in partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Photo : MBAM, Christine Guest