Figures in the Dark was a group-show which I, Ronald Sosinski, Director, curated in our original East Village gallery in 1985. At the time, the gallery (E.M. Donahue Gallery) had a serious connection to street art. In Stencil & Spray, a group-show from 1984, the gallery featured the work of Michael Roman who had concurrently made the infamous Skull Hat Box and Skull Van for Madonna for her film Desperately Seeking Susan.
For Figures in the Dark we commissioned Richard Hambleton to make an ”above the sofa painting” which became a masterwork on paper measuring 8’x 7’ and containing all of his signature elements: the black figure, the Barnett Newman stripe, the Barbara Kruger red tape all floating on a stunning backdrop resembling an Eastern waterfall. A tumultuous still life bursting out of the darkness. This fantastic work has not been shown for 25 years and will herald a landmark anniversary for the gallery.
“In a world obsessed with celebrity, decadence and above all, the figure of the incognito artist, inconspicuously marring the streets with their expression, whilst placing the upmost importance on disclosure of identity, is subversively novel, and kinda cool in a criminal-with-a-heart sort of way. The twenty first century has graffiti artist Banksy, covertly painting London (and Europe’s) streets with his uniquely satirical art, but there’s someone who’s been around for much longer, an equally as clandestine individual, the infamous Richard Hambleton.
Fittingly named the “godfather of street art”, Richard Hambleton’s legacy consists of police chalk outlines on NYC’s paved streets in the late 70’s, alongside suspect red dashes of paint, which more than disconcerted pedestrians and passers-by. And there was the slighty abstract ‘shadow men’ looming ominously on the sides of buildings in shady streets, standing, watching, almost provoking the public. For a good while no one knew his name, his Mr Hyde-esque figure kept well under wraps while he continued to cover the streets in his beautiful, provocative pieces.” – Maria Long, describing The Godfather of Street Art: Richard Hambleton, the international touring exhibition (curated by Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld and Andy Valmorbida in Collaboration with Giorgio Armani), which recently opened in London after visiting New York, Milan and Cannes.
Mark A. Reigelman II was born in 1983 in Cleveland Ohio and studied at both the Cleveland Institute of Art and Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design in London. His portfolio displays a wide range of work from one-off and limited edition objects to site-specific installations, public art and urban design. Since 2007, his work has been exhibited, publically and privately, across the country. Mark earned recent acclaim when Americans for the Arts named his work Wood-Pile as one of the top 40 public art projects in the United States. Mark A. Reigelman II lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. When asked recently to describe his work, he responded:
3 cups function
2 cups convention
1 tablespoon material
∏ teaspoon engagement
∏ teaspoon contemporary culture
π teaspoon humor
Combine function and convention in a large bowl and SHAKE VIGOROUSLY.
Pour mixture over material, engagement and contemporary culture; toss well. Garnish with humor.
Mark’s contribution to the update of Figures in the Dark will be an eerie table and chair created from black glass and the “Creepy holiday tree”, a wooden dowel armature seemingly sprouting from the cement floor decorated with a single giant black hive – a touch of darkness for the holiday season to accompany Richard Hambleton’s iconic black figure.
The Proposition would like to thank Diana Mara Henry for the vintage photo of
Richard Hambleton and Ronald Sosinski at Kamikaze Club, NYC, April 11, 1985.
Figures in the Dark Redux
December 10, 2010 - January 16, 2011
Richard Hambleton, Mark A. Reigelman II