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Drawings by Kojo Griffin


The Temporary Contemporary gallery at Cheekwood will feature Drawings by Kojo Griffin December 7, 2001 through January 27, 2002. There will be an opening reception December 7, 6-8 PM, and a gallery talk at 6:30 PM by the artist. Self-taught artist Kojo Griffin majored in psychology. This is vitally important, as his art addresses the interactions and dysfunction that are unavoidable in human relationships. To emphasize the universality of human predicaments such as love, abuse, comfort and tension, Griffin uses figures that combine human bodies with teddy bear or rag doll heads. The result is characters that are icons representing emotions - one representing loneliness, another symbolizing anger etc.

Because of the universal nature of these characters, viewers are able to make judgments based solely on the scenes laid before them, taking on an almost voyeuristic role. Consequently people are forced to abandon many of the familiar (and often prejudicial) methods of character judgment - such as learned associations with hairstyle, ethnic background, gender, age and economic status. We are left with only the actions and dynamics of the surreal figures he renders. Griffin's black and white drawings, like the brightly colored paintings for which he's also known, consist of simple, tightly-cropped compositions that, like good poetry pare imagery down to the bare essentials in order to bypass the intellect and strike directly at the heart. (left: Untitled, 2000, charcoal on paper)

Griffin's art reminds us that our actions have consequences in the lives of other people. The artist elaborates writing, "Unfortunately, the varied results of humankind's failure to appreciate the interdependent nature of all elements in reality are readily apparent at times and painfully hidden at others. When we act without attempting to understand the precedents and the antecedents of our behavior we run the risk of mistakenly destroying some structures in lieu of creating new and possibly dysfunctional ones.

Kojo Griffin, who was born in Virginia and lives and works in Atlanta, has had over 30 exhibitions nationwide. He was included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and with "Kojo Griffin: New Work" at Mitchell-lnness and Nash, he recently opened his first solo show at a major New York gallery.

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