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Ravi Zupa at Illiterate
Adam Gildar, Illiterate’s founder and elder statesman sent us over a fine review of Ravi’s latest collection of new works, entitled, The Pyre. Rather than attempt to summarize or reiterate Adam’s words it seems more appropriate to just quote him. So, here goes, “The exhibition at Illiterate running throughout the month of July is Ravi Zupa’s first solo gallery show, however this seems to have less to do with the artist being overlooked by contemporary art circles as it has been a product of his DIY mentality and rejection of the elitist status quo within the art world. A self identifying anarchist, Zupa believes that art is for everybody. When Ravi approached us about making Illiterate the site for his gallery debut, we were both honored and excited to work with this talented and driven individual. The exhibit titled “The Pyre”, coincides with a book project by the same name between the artist and hip hop musician Sole, founder of Anticon records and leader of Sole and the Skyrider band, for which Zupa has directed a number of music videos. This collaborative publishing effort involves an epic poem written by Sole and illustrated by Zupa and will be released at Illiterate during the closing reception for the exhibition on July 30.
The exhibition itself includes 90 pieces by Zupa which incorporate historical styles and imagery with contemporary American cultural symbols. Zupa utilizes a variety of techniques, from painting and illustration to sculpture, screen printing and collage elements. His meticulous rendering faculties often illicit surprise from viewers who assume his paintings are cut-out collages due to their fine precision, however, it’s Zupa’s ability to create a unique vision from the past and present that solidify him as a truly progressive artist. Within his work Buddhist, Christian and Pre-Columbian religious iconography, Flemish primitive and Renaissance portraiture, and Japanese and German block printing meet abstract expressionism, medical illustration surrealist creatures, and modern technology. In a collision between the past ruled by the supposed certainty of tradition and the freely conflicted agnosticism of the present, Zupa’s work explores that very human conflict between nostalgic longing and modern disillusion.
Included in the exhibit are a number of puppets sculpted by Zupa largely from found objects which he avidly collects. Though a simple man with few possession of his own, Zupa is fascinated with the discarded byproducts of consumer culture. By incorporating them in his sculptures and tricking the eye to believe that a bunch of cut up old pie tins are actually samurai armor or an assorted conglomeration of tools and parts are a gun, he again asks us to examine our own way of seeing and systems of valuation.”
You can find a much more robust collection of images from The Pyre here.