Foreword by Robert Fitzpatrick. Introduction by Elizabeth A. T. Smith. Texts by Helen Molesworth, Jeff Donaldson, Nathaniel McLin and Charles Mills
In Kerry James Marshall’s Rythm Mastr comic strip, an urban superhero battles the forces of evil using a combination of futuristic and traditional African accoutrements. This graphic narrativization is a stylistic update of Marshall’s best-known work, monumental paintings of African-American subjects based on the traditional genre of narrative history painting. In One True Thing, the catalogue accompaniment to Marshall’s first solo show in five years, the artist presents a multi-media range of new work that demonstrates the evolution of his ideas and his ongoing commitment to issues of construction and interpretation of meaning. The body of work Marshall is developing for the book and exhibition centers on the idea of ambiguity surrounding the representation of African Americans in our culture. Stemming in part from the Rythm Mastr comic strip project first developed for the 2000 Carnegie International exhibition, the monumental paintings in this new body of work portray figures in the urban landscape of the South Side of Chicago, inspired by the tradition of old-master paintings, especially the townscapes of Canaletto. Marshall is also creating several photographic series depicting urban settings along with a group of figurative works based on African tribal sculptures.