In stark graphic black and white paintings with occasional exclamations in red, yellow and silver, Deborah Grant draws from the cacophony of messages from the contemporary world to create labyrinthine landscapes of ideas and imagery. Grant calls her process Random Select for her method of selecting and composing the facts, fiction and ephemera of our media driven age. Riffing on everything from conspiracy theories and power structures to sidewalk conversations and pop culture, Grant admixes all things social, political, religious, dark, humorous and imaginary, covering the canvas with figures, text, symbols, and glyphs that create intricate, chattering tableaux that function as elaborate metaphors for the human condition.
Her most recent body of work, which Grant has titled “A Gin Cure,” an anagram for Guernica, Picasso’s famously impassioned condemnation of war, has her courageously update the Spaniard’s painterly expression of moral outrage. In the words of curator and critic Franklin Sirmans, “Grant explores similar issues to Guernica in the present with a keen eye on art and the intermingling of political histories. While the work of Picasso is a springboard for this new body of work, Grant’s reckoning with the old master yields a unique take on the past and the present.”
Elsewhere in the text Sirmans has provided for the exhibition, he writes the following: “In effect, Grant is highlighting the layers of experience that go into any good work of art, from Picasso’s reaction to war, to her own reaction to the present moment. In the process, many small narratives play out. In one panel prompted by a Picasso drawing of his dear fried Casamegas, who committed suicide, the subject becomes a contemporary environment for a wanderer in Awake on Ward 7. A woman performing fellatio is wryly titled Spring Larks of Chelsea, invoking Picasso’s misogyny as much as the landscape of today’s contemporary art market.”
Deborah Grant has exhibited in, among other venues, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Center for Contemporary Art in New Orleans, Carnegie Mellon’s Regina Gouger Miller Gallery and Triple Candy.