Pimpin' With a Mullet

Artist Ryan Humphrey riffs on hot-rod and rocker culture

A tightly painted car hood, "Velocity of Transparent Aspiration," glistens in red, white and black stripes in the next gallery over. This piece injects the dumb object otherwise known as a "hood ornament" with conceptualist verve and aplomb. Bringing to mind Richard Prince's painted car hoods from the late '80s, Humphrey used automotive paint to render the pattern of Eddie Van Halen's guitar on the hood of a BMW 7 Series. Humphrey apes the culture of fast cars, heavy metal and macho men. We find here readymade stacked on top of readymade, Van Halen's original design on top of a car hood, as a means to signify the kitsch quality of collective manliness. Made large and bold at this scale, the linear pattern of Van Halen's design at the same time seems an accidental variation on Russian avant-garde painting themes.

The work in this show executes a powerful and wacky collapse of high into low culture and vice versa. Subtler is the theme of gender, in particular boyhood escapades experienced in your 30s. This art celebrates the life of a boy wonder, Ryan Humphrey, through keen self-mockery. Who knows: If Humphrey keys up his work with just the right kind of subversion--lopped-off genitalia antics like the video artist Paul McCarthy--we might find ourselves with a full-fledged progressive politics of masculinity.

Ryan Humphrey's "Honky Spaceship" (2004)
Ryan Humphrey's "Honky Spaceship" (2004)


Ryan Humphrey: Diver Down is on display through October 28 at Road Agent, 214-749 -4049.

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