Dallas Art Fair

Roscoe Hall

April 21 – April 24, 2022

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Ask painter Roscoe Hall how he chooses his subjects, and his answer is as likely to include deep references to punk, hip hop, and pop culture as it is to share reverent, intimate personal stories about whoever he’s connecting with on the canvas. And while today it seems common to refer to someone as a polymath, which Hall definitely is, I prefer to think of him as a polyglot – as someone who uses multiple languages to explore and connect with audiences across unfamiliar — though shared — spaces.

Hall’s works are conceptually and visually arresting. He combines familiar histories with unfamiliar faces, names, and realities to construct nuanced narratives of Black experiences, identities, and descriptions that are as much definitions as they are depictions. He combines punk rock’s energy with rap’s complexity to create paintings that speak, and sing — though maybe not always the most familiar, or most forgiving, tunes.

Part of what makes Hall’s paintings so mesmerizing is how he conveys the bastardized and the banal — works about the Scottsboro Boys, for example. But here, they’re far more than “The Alabama 9.” We see Norris, and Weems, and can almost hear Chuck D say, “Freedom/to get out/to the ghetto/no sell-out,” as if in this fragmentary moment there was some miniscule possibility that any of the Scottsboro Boys ever had a chance. What Hall does so subtly, and so successfully, is demand that viewers ask themselves not what it is that they see, but what they imagine they perceive when they see Roy Wright (One of the Alabama 9/Scottsboro Boys) standing almost life-size in his jailhouse blues.

This creative exploration of Black male sartorialism — prison denims, canvas, scrubs, and plain white tees, Air Jordans, the immediacy and elegance of Botham Jean in jacket and tie — deeply and directly demands that we question our preconceptions of history and identity. Add in the fact that Hall tells us what it takes for him to even begin to create these works — beers, cookies, gummies, sativa, Mos Def, Robert Glasper, love, and more — and you begin to see how he synthesizes history, memory, materiality, and emotion onto his oversized supports using everyday materials.

Hall’s understandings and depictions of space are also unsurpassed. The recurring black lines — bold, impenetrable, immediate — become physical and visual stops that separate us from his subjects even more. What seems like a moment of tenderness in Nod to Renaissance becomes a block. You can almost feel the cold steel, but you know the separation even more. The presence in detachment. That’s the same feeling in several of the Scottsboro Boys works, which is similar — though you’re being reeled in more closely — in 31 Flavors. By the time you’ve crossed over, crossed in, and maybe crossed on, you’re inside. In Arm’s Too Short to Box with God, for example. And in 2 of the Alabama 9/Scottsboro Crew, or Uncle Bobby, you simply have no idea where you are.

If connection and emotion are central to impactful works, Hall switches position, perspective, and point-of-view far better than most. His works are about the impacts of anger rather than angry; about the impacts of perception rather than perspective; about understanding and empathy rather than misunderstanding and apathy. Sure, at times he diffuses meaning into a flat plane, like in Brixton 1976, but you can just as clearly hear The Clash’s Guns of Brixton and imagine the Brixton Riots as you can wonder how this bastion of South London Black culture got gentrified and transmogrified into just another London suburb. And yes, that is Roots Manuva telling you, “On the south of the river is where I reside/making movements discrete cause I know I’m being spied.” Hall’s just as aware of this, but he’s right here, inviting connection in every work. It’s not so much that he’s telling as he is looking for your “tell,” that moment, that instant, when he knows that his works have landed, gotten under your skin, made you stop and stare. And just what are you staring at? “Everyday shit,” as he puts it, transformed into something special: coffee grounds as a painterly ground; spliffs, Sade, and salt’n’pepper shrimp; crap tv, kombucha, and a Subhumans soundtrack. Roscoe Hall’s ready to share a story. It may not be easy for either of you, but if you feel like you’re ready, take the steps. Giant. Steps.

roscoe hall

Roscoe Hall

2 of the Alabama 9/Scottsboro Crew
60 x 48 inches
Acrylic, ink, pastel, Big Santa puffs, Eddie Kendricks, Adidas, denim, cotton, and paper towels on canvas
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Roy Wright (One of the Alabama 9/Scottsboro Boys)
60 x 48 inches
Acrylic, ink, cotton, turmeric, pastels, J.J. Johnson’s best of album, sativa vape pen, Dasani, and love on canvas
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Four of the Alabama 9/Scottsboro Boys
60 x 48 inches
Acrylic, pastel, ink, Sade, Negronis x 2, an amazing spliff, salt n pepper shrimp, and love on canvas
2022

 

roscoe hall

Roscoe Hall

Norris and Weems (Two of the Alabama Nine/Scottsboro Boys)
60 x 48 inches
Acrylic, denim, clay, ink, coffee filters, pastel, graphite, cotton, Indica, German beers, Break-Up Cookie, and love on canvas
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Fleeta Drumgo 1/3 of The Soledad Brothers
72 x 60 inches
Acrylics, ink, paper towels, ground coffee filters, all purpose flour, Indica hybrid 10 mg lemon edible, oat milk, love, and Tevin Campbell bumpin
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Good Action
72 x 60 inches
Acrylic, cotton, paper towels, turmeric, ink, pastel, denim, Nina Simone, sativa, love, and kombucha on canvas
2022

 

roscoe hall

Roscoe Hall

31 Flavors
72 x 60 inches
Cotton, acrylic, ink, denim, rayon, paper towels, pastels, Indicia hybrid, kombucha, fear, truth, confusion, compassion and HOPE, also tons of house musk on canvas
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

St. Lucia
72 x 60 inches
Acrylic, denim, cotton, paper towels, flour, pastel, sativa, coffee filters, tears, wonder, hope, confusion, sadness
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Every Sunday
72 x 60 inches
Acrylic, ink, pastel, flour, turmeric, paper towels, Indica hybrid, Dasani water, Dave Chappelle Midnight Miracle on canvas
2022

 

roscoe hall

Roscoe Hall

Uncle Bobby
60 x 48 inches
Oil, acrylic, Megadeath, Indica, paper towels, cotton, denim, oat milk latte, hybrid vape, love of Mexican cuisine, Robert Glasper new album on canvas
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Arms to Short to Box with God
60 x 72 inches
Acrylic, ink, chalk, paper towels, 20 mg peach sativa gummy, Mos Def 1st album, and Red Stripe on canvas
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Punk Page #1
12 x 14 inches
Acrylic, Cannas, paper towels, love, Subhumans on wood pane
2022

 

roscoe hall

Roscoe Hall

Nod to Renaissance
11 x 14 inches
Ink, graphite, and Indica gummies on canvas
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Listening to Cancel Fear
14 x 11 inches
Ink, graphite, Indica gummies, kombucha, post surgery meds, Below Deck Season 5 on canvas
2022

 

Roscoe Hall

Brixton 76
20 x 16 inches
Acrylic, gold leaf and ink on canvas
2022

 

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