September 24th/ December 14th 2020
“Ronald Hall, New Paintings” was held in the Fall of 2020 in Tribeca, NY.
For the whole of 2020 Ronald Hall (born 1967 in Pittsburgh) made four large paintings for this venue that sum up concepts he has developed since the onset of his career in the late nineties. Weaving references from the history of the African Diaspora, the Civil Rights Movement, Digital Culture, Western Art, Science Fiction and personal narratives, the works seek to reframe the relation of Western art and our twenty first century digital era.
Working exclusively from web searches, Ronald Hall sketches digital collages and uses them as inspiration for his paintings. In a piece titled “Brothers In Arms,” Hall borrows from a nineteenth century French painting by François-Auguste Biard (“Proclamation of the Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies, 1848”) cropping in figures of civil rights activists protesting the segregationist policies of George Wallace in the 60ʼs, and an ominous southern landmark such as the John Wright House that saw a brutal 1923 mob killing in Florida. A naked slave occupying the center of the composition raises her arms pleading with a higher power: in Biardʼs composition this power is the flag of the French Colonial Army, in Hallʼs version the colonial power has been replaced by two beams of light protruding from the characterʼs hands evoking the possibility of power being displaced to another dimension.
The idea of time travel as well as references to supernatural phenomena permeate the works. In “Black Molasses” a plantation home and a Winnowing barn commonly found on rice farms in the segregated south confront an urban environment where a man wearing an apron serves up a brown and sugary mixture. Set in between the Great American Depression, WWII, and deeper yet more ominous chapters of American history, the work invents a space of its own where American civil discourse meets pressing political issues of housing and urban planning in post segregated American towns. A child in the forefront holds a bunch of colored strings, laying awkwardly half laying – half standing, in a precarious position that betrays a sense of malaise and trauma.
Ronald Hall is a native of Pittsburgh where he attended the High Shool For Creative And Performing Arts, and later studied illustration at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 1999 he joined Gallery 110 in Seattle as an artist-member and began exhibiting works at major north western institutions such as The Tacoma Museum, The Seattle Art Museum and The Wing Luke Asian Museum. In 2014 Ronald Hall moved to Brooklyn for a residency and has since lived and worked in the New York region. He is a recipient of many awards and grants from the New York Art Residency & Studios Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation The Bronx Museum of the Arts AIM Program, the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation, and the 2013 Artist Fellowship Award in Seattle.