los-angeles

Glenn Ligon

Regen Projects

That Glenn Ligon’s most recent paintings are so seductive is as disconcerting as it is revealing. Thirty-three of the thirty-six radiant text-based paintings in his recent show, from the series “No Room (Gold),” 2007, are verbatim transcriptions of a joke delivered live by the late, great stand-up comedian Richard Pryor: I WAS A NIGGER FOR TWENTY-THREE. / I GAVE THAT SHIT UP. NO ROOM FOR / NO ROOM FOR ADVANCEMENT. Pryor was renowned for his ability to objectify race relations in his routines, using irreverent, profanity-laced comment to foreground otherwise taboo subjects. Ligon, for his part, sidelines humor in favor of seductive contemporary beauty that draws knowingly and heavily on contemporary branding strategies.

The pitch-perfect cadence of Pryor’s delivery—the subtle pauses, emphases, and repetitions that make his work so explosively funny—are captured faithfully in Ligon’s

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