I was pleased to be asked to compose a critical statement for Shaun Richards' recent show at Flanders Gallery in Raleigh. I'm sharing it here, but I encourage you to check out his work at the Flanders site. Good stuff, indeed.
Shaun Richardsʼ latest body of work is a meditation from within a dream. Icons and
spectres drawn from the American tale of the last half-century haunt these pieces.
Visual cues from lowbrow genre work — pulp, noir, porno — inflect a series of moments and montages which, taken as a whole, begin to etch out the artistʼs ongoing psychic negotiation of being in the twenty-first century. But the personal territory Richards mines is rich with transferrable revelation. Through juxtaposition and accretion of figurative, symbolic and textual elements, Richards illuminates the machinations of finance, desire and violence that lurk behind the veneer of the everyday.
“Concession Stand,” the title of the present exhibition, is a play on words that points immediately to the question of our complicity in and responsibility for the world. Ultimately, the work interrogates the complexity of maintaining a coherent moral stance in the midst of market systems that only want us to buy. Richards employs the language of advertising, broad sloganeering and day-glo impact to draw us into dialogue with often unsettling questions that get to the heart of what it means to participate in the American marketplace of ideas, actions, and glances. Richardsʼ surreal landscapes and scenarios, the product of his galvanizing admixture of figurative technique and graphic gusto, conjure spaces within which we are asked to confront and acknowledge precisely what we give up in our own perpetual quests to be who we think we are.