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    Complete archive, 1999-present


      Glenn Ligon: Colored
    Pictures of color

    Glenn Ligon replicates children's creations when given a coloring book full of African-American images in "Colored," a show that investigates whether black is beautiful.


    The paintings in this show are based upon images from 1970s coloring books aimed at black children. Glenn Ligon made copies of these images, asked a group of schoolchildren to color them in, and based his paintings on what they did. Ligon seems to be addressing what the word "colored" means; racially it's not used anymore, but by asking these children to color these pictures designed to help children decades ago define themselves, he's bringing the word into a charged spotlight.

    Exhibition: Colored.
    Paintings by: Glenn Ligon.
    D'Amelio Terras Gallery 525 West 22nd St. Through June 9 (212) 352-9460

    The results are thought-provoking and visually arresting. Malcolm X is colored in with white hair, bright pink lips and red dots on his cheeks, rendering him clownlike. One wonders if this is a commentary on him or just a product of a child's whimsy. In a picture of three children playing basketball, their hair is pink, green and blue and the ball has a burst of yellow coming out of it as if aflame. In an image of a child playing on a tire swing, the child's face is hidden under a dense black scribble.

    The seemingly random color bursts and energetic strokes on these canvases echo Jean-Michel Basquiat's work. The pop traces in the large scale silk-screened images here may put the viewer in the mind of Andy Warhol's famous portraits. Other images are of things that start with the letter C: cornbread, coolcat, cash, and S: Sun, soul, six. Two people seeming to represent soul are scribbled over in green and brown.

    The obliterative way that color is put upon these images seems to connote that these images aren't being taken seriously or are being dismissed. That gets adressed in the show's two images of Harriet Tubman: In one instance, she and a group of others in 1800s garb have their faces colored over in brown; in another, she is meticulously rendered in bright colors; a seemingly reverential treatment. The yelows, reds, pinks and blues are continued in a sunburst pattern stretching to the end of the image.

    MAY 14, 2001

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