Ravi Zupa Returns to Black Book Gallery With ‘Strike Everywhere’
The Denver artist tackles injustice and the underpinnings of human nature
All images courtesy of the artist and Black Book Gallery
Ravi Zupa knows no bounds when manifesting his visions. There’s no such limit as confinement to a “preferred medium,” there’s only open road. He can voyage—with sickly impressive results—from the parlance and style of traditional renaissance painting to mechanical sculptures to Japanese wood block prints; from images co-opted from religious iconography or seduced from propaganda. It’s as if his hands are multilingual, reliably able to elucidate, be it in collage on canvas, ink, paint or prints.
Zupa returns to Black Book Gallery in his hometown of Denver for his annual showing this Saturday night. Indicative of his overall practice, Strike Everywhere is a cohesion of several different series of work; some brand new, others revisited.
Pieces from Zupa’s Mightier Than series are thankfully included. Equally positive and elegiac, the incredibly provocative firearm sculptures made from disassembled antique typewriters forever carry a weighted contemplation.
The artist’s ongoing Opposable Thumbs series is also included. But, for the first time, Zupa will share these visions in a larger format allowing for true appreciation and inhalation of every hand-drawn subtlety. Begging the question, “What do we do with opposable thumbs?”, the highly detailed portraits depict animals engaging in decidedly human activities (more than tinged by questions of creation and destruction) involving weapons, hunting, exploration, and sport.
His Strike Everywhere series, from which the show takes its name, will unveil a brand new collaboration with Denver-comrade Arna Miller, inspired by the art that decorated early match boxes. Zupa employs the iconic skeleton-style of Mexico’s Jose Posada to portray scenes of the ongoing depravity of police violence, the (unjust ) justice system and income inequality. Nods to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing also abound. Mindbogglingly, the images are relief prints carved from run-of-the-mill, orange traffic cones. No joke. They are then printed on an antique printing press. Lettering and text are added later.
The solo exhibition caps off with the just-one-last-bite of mystery and otherworldly imagery with the original drawings of the Age Of Enlightenment series. Zupa chooses to utilize a range of techniques to emulate artist from the middle ages and renaissance era. The result? Wholly original scenes marrying mythological creatures and odd characters from the ancient world with elements of the modern everyday.
Strike Everywhere opens Saturday, March 19, at Black Book Gallery (304 Elati St.) in Denver, Colorado. The exhibition runs until Saturday, April 9, 2016.