previews

Los Angeles

“ROBERT PRUITT: DEVOTION”

California African American Museum (CAAM)
600 State Drive, Exposition Park
September 12 - February 17

Curated by Mar Hollingsworth

“White people know that God is a spook,” declared Sun Ra, the free-jazz pioneer and leader of Afrofuturism. By reappropriating a racist slur synonymous with ghost, Sun Ra linked black people to spirits and divinity. Yet Afrofuturist thought often focuses on technoculture and interplanetary escape with nary a mention of religiosity. Robert Pruitt has waded into these end-of-time waters, and his first museum exhibition in Los Angeles will be devoted to his upbringing in a devout household. On view will be twelve of his celebrated charcoal-and-conté-crayon portraits of black subjects sporting everything from architectural coifs to cosmos-inspired clothing. Alongside them will be eight sculptures, primarily quotidian objects with mysterious flourishes, such as Untitled (Basketball), 2015, which consists of a basketball wrapped partially in foil. One all-black drawing, Rearview Mirror, 2018, stands out for its McLuhanian insight about the need to march backward to locate the future. Following suit, Pruitt’s show will also include works by his forebears from the California African American Museum’s permanent collection, enlisting the likes of John Outterbridge, Robert Thompson, and Charles White to decamp to a more spiritual Afrofuture.