Stanley Wany: Remix
Sept 10 - 29
Wall Space Gallery is proud to present Remix a solo exhibition by renowned artist Stanley Wany. In this body of work, Wany brings his Ice Cream Truck series to new heights. Through raw and lively scenes of 80s and 90s pop culture references, Wany explores collective memory and the ties between mass media entertainment, counterculture movements amongst marginalized communities, and their broader reflection of historical and contemporary social dynamics.
Max Headroom, ink, marker, acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 10 x 10 in, framed by Wall Space
Remix aims to vigorously rearrange the media references engrained in our memories throughout our life time and draw attention to the historic racialized representation of black characters. These actors were often pigeon-holed into secondary roles that reinforced social views and stereotypes about black individuals and culture. Wany is interested in the repetition of the motif of the black individual as ‘side-kick’ to the white protagonist.
Wany’s worlds explode in colourful arrays of fictitious, cartoon, and historical faces, reminiscent of the acid-trip intensity of contemporary media and its consumption in today’s world of hyper-sharing. What initially presents as a celebration of the zany and quirky figures we have come to love, is Wany’s means of highlighting and rewiring an underlying collective subconscious influenced by systemic racism. A prevalent problem reaching back to the very beginnings of film and television.
Spam 1 & Spam 2, ink, marker, watercolour and gouache on paper, 30 x 11 in, framed by Wall Space
1972, ink on paper, 18 x 12 in, framed by Wall Space, $1050
Wany draws from personal memories as the basis for his expanding Ice Cream Truck series: “The Ice Cream Truck series, and related works, are inspired by the summer months spent during my youth at my uncle's house in Queens, New York. I was immersed in a dynamic place filled with different cultural communities and socio-economic classes. As soon as the music from the ice cream truck could be heard, people of all kinds gathered. In the Ice Cream Truck drawings, characters are arranged in such a way as to fill the page. These all-over compositions are inspired by the American art movement, pop surrealism, and “Lowbrow”, popularized by artists like Todd Schorr.”
Velvet Cake, ink, marker, acrylic and gouache on panel, 10 x 10 in, framed by Wall Space
“Through [this series], I refer to culture as continually transforming, across different ethnic, economic and artistic identities. In choosing to add colors to the illustration, or to leave them in black and white, I seek to discern culture from counterculture, the latter emerging from artists of disadvantaged backgrounds and gradually assimilated by popular culture. The common thread of this series is the ice cream van around which the various actors of culture and counterculture gather. The people depicted attract the public's gaze with their familiarity; the audience is then invited to explore the prejudices inherent to culture. These illustrations are drawn directly with fine point pens and coloured using markers, watercolor and gouache.” - Stanley Wany
Flipside, ink, marker, watercolour and gouache on paper, 22 1/4 x 15 in, framed by Wall Space
Wany is strategic in his compositions. For instance, the cast of The Jeffersons share a tableaux with the cast of Bewitched. However, Bewitched occupies the majority of the space, rendered in pops of colour, while the Jeffersons – cornered into the left side of the page by Endora’s (Agnes Moorehead’s) arm – remain in detailed black and white. One of the Jeffersons even has to peer out from the small window created by the crook of Endora’s arm.
In reversing the whitewashing of T.V. figures, Wany replaces Matt Frewer with Eddie Murphy in the 1980s satirical science fiction series Max Headroom. The series takes place in a dystopian future ruled by the overlord control of television broadcast companies – not dissimilar to the underlying power of media to create and control social mores which Wany makes explicit.
Tainted Love, ink, marker, acrylic, and gouache on wood panel, 16 x 16 in
Corporate Hell, ink, marker, watercolour and gouache on paper, 11 x 15 in, framed by Wall Space
There are deep currents of humour in Wany’s repurposing of famous figures. An invitation to embrace overwhelming absurdity of media and see it for its true colours. Looking back into not-so-distant history allows Wany to distill, with hindsight, his own experiences growing up amidst these portrayals of his community; a celebration but simultaneous undermining of the dominant cultural constructs. - Tiffany April, Curator