David Leggett. The Tragic Misspelling of Thriller, 2010.

This week, Meg Onli’s Black Visual Archive has a terrific interview with artist David Leggett, who recently had an exhibition at 65 Grand. Go on over and check it out; a brief excerpt follows below.

Drawing influence from both art history and popular culture, David Leggett, often mixing paint with crafting materials, makes paintings that confront race, sexuality, and class in humorous and ambiguous situations. In March 2010, he had his first solo exhibition, Up for the Down Stroke, at 65GRAND in Chicago, IL. The exhibition consisted of many smaller works on canvas as well as two large paintings — portraits of rapper, Rick Ross and singer, Beth Ditto. One of the highlights was a smaller piece, Colgate Smile, in which the artist depicts a black face, constructed out of felt and googly eyes on a round light blue canvas. Below the face, written with a paint stick, reads “thanks Bono”. Leggett’s subject matter, however, is not just limited to celebrities. Often inserting himself as a character, he appears breathing fire on Snow White, covered in “purple stuff” and wearing a crown with his shirt off.

Born in Massachusetts and currently living in Chicago, Leggett received his Masters Degree from the School of the Art Institute in 2007 and recently attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Black Visual Archive: When I look at your work I often find my self thinking about your materials, mainly your use of googly eyes and felt. It brings back memories of crafting as a child. What attracts you to these materials?

David Legget: I started using those materials due to my distrust in painting. I thought there were other ways to problem solve in my own work. In my past work, I would just fill in areas without giving much thought, but when I started to add glitter, felt, wiggle eyes and other materials it made think about how much information was needed.  It also made me slow down. I think when you use them, materials can easily look like junk if you don’t take the time and think about the placement. (Continue reading).

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.