‘Undercover Brother’ Exhibition From Devin Troy Strother Subverts Convention With Bold Graphics and Dark Humor

Posted inDesign News

Los Angeles gallery The Pit has opened a solo exhibition from artist Devin Troy Strother, which confronts its audience with a graphic commentary on systems of oppression and white-washed cultural concepts. The provocative multimedia installation entitled “Undercover Brother” is on view through December 18th and is composed of hanging figures, ceramic sculptures, and collage paintings.

on the way to the rally / undercover brothers /shotgun, 2021, Oil, acrylic, latex caulking on linen,
36 x 48 in.

The Pit focuses on highlighting artists who work across a variety of mediums and looks to engender cross-generational conversations between historical and emerging artists. As such, Strother’s brazen works fit right into their lineup, pushing back on boundaries and the status quo, and reclaiming ownership of long-held societal beliefs.

Where’s my baby’s daddy, 2021, Enamel on ceramic , 4 x 4½ x 2 in.

Strother uses replacement, rearrangement, and reconstruction to subvert conventions established by our white-dominated world, creating alternative racial narratives with a darkly humorous slant. For example, the SoCal-native is known for painting on top of photos of famous white artists and actors to make them appear Black.

Further exploration of these ideas is on full display within the works featured in “Undercover Brother,” including thrifted figurines Strother has painted and reworked in a process he calls “bombastic rebranding.”

“It’s revisionist art history to show a present reality reflective of what I believe the intentions of said works were,” Strother says on The Pit’s website.

sleeping, smoking, and scrolling while i’m painting, 2021, Oil, acrylic on linen, 60 x 80 in.
do we have to keeping playing even down here? (just asking), 2021, Oil, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 37.5 in.

Ultimately, “Undercover Brother” serves as a continuation of Strother’s ongoing dissection of culture and oppression. Borrowing gestures, images, and themes from Philip Guston, Strother makes a commentary on how reclamation, reinvention, and empowerment can be used by oppressed populations as sources of pride and survival.