Thaddeus Strode


Apr 16 – May  9, 2009

Galeria Fortes Vilaça

Galeria Fortes Vilaça is pleased to present North American artist Thaddeus Strode’s first exhibition in Brazil. Titled Phantasmagoria, the show features seven vibrant large-format paintings presenting realities tending toward the absurd, with enigmatic characters set off against active, intensively colored backgrounds.

Strode’s references are drawn from pop culture, ranging from street paintings to skate and California surf culture, rock music, movies and comic books to culminate in an aesthetics reminiscent of North American 1980s neo-expressionism. The power and visual pleasure of his artworks spring from the strange combinations established within the same canvas, where figurative elements are side-by-side with abstract colored splotches, overlain with truncated phrases and loose words. The result is a gestural painting with touches of humor and protest.

Strode’s universe is inhabited by curious goats, bizarre monkeys, monsters, men with medieval masks, and a myriad of vigorously delineated characters. They seem to have been taken from an animated movie whose story is set in a New York ghetto, or from a limbo between civilization and primitivism.

In the painting Incantation 2: And the building of a New Reality, a gorilla appears mixed with loose words written in Spanish – a reference to the strong Latino presence in the US – against background of colorful and expressive yellow, orange and blue. Capping off and balancing the composition, Strode painted various white squares, allowing the paint to run down in streaks over the colored background.

Phantasmagoria is defined as a series of happenings involving drastic changes in the intensity of lighting and colors, but can also be interpreted as an abstract state in which the imaginary and the real are blended; it is the perfect title to summarize the production Strode presents at Fortes Vilaça.

Thaddeus Strode was born in Santa Monica, USA, in 1964. He currently lives in Los Angeles. He is widely known internationally, having exhibited in important galleries and participated in exhibitions at institutions such as Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal; and Brandts Kunsthalle, Odense, Denmark. In 2007, the artist had a retrospective show at Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis, titled Thaddeus Strode: Absolutes and Nothings.