Rob Pruitt—once of the boy duo Pruitt-Early—has always had a surfeit of good ideas. It’s high time that the controversial commodity conceptualist, known for his weirdly humorous art-world critiques and too much talent, is taken seriously. This show, “Multiple Personalities,” was terrific. Pruitt’s prelude to it, Studio Calendar 2014 (RIP Massimo Vignelli), was a dose of the extremely personal, but his three installations here might well have been the work of three different personalities. In the first gallery, seven manic sofas were covered with Magic-Marker drawings—cartoony comments on mental health, orgies, artworks, celebrities, and the news—graphically illustrating information overload, from Obama and Krazy Kat to Jeff Koons and La Cicciolina. Perched on checkerboard bases, doodled on by his studio assistants, these “Studio Loveseats” were surrounded by tables propped up with sandbags.
In the second gallery, a sandy desert floor set the scene for the “Suicide Paintings”—eerily beautiful, vacant, hand-painted skies—pure nothingness in gradations of blue or gray, like amnesiac Ruschas. The third gallery featured automatic “Therapy Paintings”: enlarged printed ballpoint doodles on painterly surfaces. His black-cat sculptures lolled about or gazed at the works. Within Pruitt’s odd mix of sincerity, trivia, profundity, and parody, he finally seems to be revealing and critiquing himself.
A version of this story originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 82.