One year ago today, election results changed the world as we know it. Since then, Los Angeles-based African-American artist and writer Tony Puryear has been creating “gankstas!™ – Know Your Thug,” an ongoing series of satiric political portraits with commentary published online. In the spirit of resistance, the graphically bold works lambaste the Trump administration as a crime family wreaking havoc on our nation – and the world. Accompanying text, written by Puryear, identifies each subject’s particular brand of mayhem, weaving together shuddering tales of corruption that have weighted down every news cycle since the election. The series will be shown for the first time January 6 – 7, 2018 at a pop-up exhibition at Jason Vass in Los Angeles. Save the date for an opening artist’s reception scheduled for 5-9PM on January 6, mere days before the one-year anniversary of Donald “Don Fugazy” Trump’s inauguration. The show may also be viewed from 12-5PM on the 6th, and from 12-4PM on Sunday, January 7. The gallery is located at 1452 E. 6th St., LA, 90021.
“This art is my hammer, my bell, my song. It’s my march and my sit-in, and in the days since Trump and his cohort of thugs and pickpockets came to power, it’s the work I’m compelled to do,” says Puryear. “As an African-American writer, I come from a powerful storytelling tradition, and I’ve always done political art, but these characters, this extended crime family, cried out so strongly for naming and shaming that I started making “gankstas!” the day after the 2016 election, and I haven’t stopped since. In this series, I mean to show their true faces and tell their true stories to help you “know your thug®.”
The exhibition will feature more than 20 prints and several paintings from the ongoing “gankstas! – Know Your Thug” series. Each print will be offered in signed and numbered limited editions. Subjects include former and present members of the Trump regimem – among them Michael “Tovarich” Flynn, Paul “Paulie No-Nuts Ryan,” Steve “Big Pussy” Bannon, Sara “The Huckster” Huckabee Sanders, Ryan “The Other White Meat” Zinke, General John “Blue Falcon” Kelly, and Ivanka “Shorty Bang Bang” Trump – and valorous figures including Sally “Maverick” Yates and Robert “Bobby Three Sticks” Mueller. Also to be shown is the artwork for which Puryear is best known, his iconic 2008 national campaign poster for Hillary Clinton – now part of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian – in which the candidate is winkingly celebrated with Eva Peron style. A limited quantity of the original prints will be made available.
As well, classic pieces from gallerist Jason Vass’s personal collection of protest and political art will be on display, along with a painting of Trump by Italian artist Stefano Panichi.
Tony Puryear was born and raised in New York City. He studied at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. While pursuing a degree in art, he was kicked out five times for his political activism there, a school record. In Providence, Puryear received his first acclaim as an innovative chef, which caught the attention of author James Patterson, then head of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. Patterson brought him to Manhattan for work that would result in award-winning national campaigns – he also became an important writing mentor for Puryear. Currently, Puryear is co-creator and artist for the critically-acclaimed graphic novel series Concrete Park (Dark Horse Comics), in partnership with writer and political commentator Erika Alexander. As a screenwriter, Puryear became the first African-American to write a $100-million blockbuster with his script for the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Eraser (1996). He has also written films for Oliver Stone, Mel Gibson, Jerry Bruckheimer and Will Smith. Most recently, Puryear is a writer on USA Network’s hit cable drama Queen of the South.
About Jason Vass:
Situated in the burgeoning arts district neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles in a 2,700-square foot space designed to accommodate diverse exhibitions and related programs, Jason Vass aims to create an exhibition platform that offers a historical perspective through the lens of contemporary artists. The gallery is committed to cultivating emerging talent and supporting established artists from around the world. Exhibiting artists include: Luke Austin, Deborah Brown, Dan Callis, Tina Linville, Mark Dutcher, Nancy Evans, Constance Mallinson, Philip Mount, Emiliano Gironella Parra, Douglas Tausik Ryder, Robert Walker and Nettie Wakefield. The gallery manages the estate of Gene Vass.
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