45 DON’T HAVE LOVE FOR ME
It is the artist’s third exhibition at FIERMAN, following a solo show in 2017 as well as an artist-curated exhibition in 2018. The show is comprised of over forty small-scale drawings done in the artist's signature style: depicting variegated and tumultuous crowds, the rigid choreography of marching in step, as well as the direct interventional use of text. If his earlier work largely focused on the marching bands and street parades of his native New Orleans and the heroic boxers of his youth, the new drawings directly address the historical and contemporary racial violence inherent in American, and particularly Southern, culture.
The title of the show 45 Don't Have Love for Me explicitly addresses the current president and the climate engendered by his open embrace of white supremacist and racist ideologies. If the crowds in Bruce’s earlier work have been largely jubilant spectators at a parade or a Muhammad Ali fight, in these drawings masses of hooded Klansmen abut groups of protestors. The precise formations of marchers in his parade drawing are supplanted by rows of slaves in plantation fields or contemporary prison work lines, a jarring and affective visual simile. Contemporary political events appear, including the death of Eric Garner, the removal of Confederate Statues, and Make America Great Again rallies, alongside the sporadic presence of the President and First Lady, rendered humorously and unintentionally savagely small and impotent. When extrapolated across the artist’s body of work, the parade marchers and the boxing crowds and the protest rallies and field slaves reveal Dapper Bruce’s project as a whole: using a self-taught style of drawing to document first hand “the history and culture.”