LUGO GRIFF 2021 - Back and Forth: Red and Meth - Ceramic and Graffiti featuring Roberto Lugo and Griff Jurchak - Wexler Gallery

Back and Forth: Red and Meth – Ceramic and Graffiti featuring Roberto Lugo and Griff Jurchak

October 15, 2021 through December 30, 2021

Back and Forth: Red and Meth
Ceramic and Graffiti featuring Roberto Lugo and Griff Jurchak
October 15 – December 30, 2021
@ Wexler Gallery Philadelphia

Artist, activist, spoken word poet, and educator Roberto Lugo has become a major figure in contemporary ceramics. His third exhibition at Wexler Gallery, Back and Forth: Red and Meth – Ceramic and Graffiti featuring Roberto Lugo and Griff Jurchak, has Lugo sharing the space with collaborator Griff Jurchak. The show comes during a time of immense creative growth, as evidenced by the acquisition of Lugo’s work by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in conjunction with his inclusion in their upcoming exhibition Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room from Seneca Village this fall. In the past year, Lugo has participated in several notable group exhibitions at institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, El Museo del Barrio, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Additionally, Lugo has had solo shows at The Currier Museum of Art and the Fairfield University Art Museum.

Aside from institutional exhibitions, Lugo has been branching out into other areas, continuing to push the boundaries between art forms. He recently debuted a limited-edition Nike Air sneaker series, entitled Stunting, with Garrixon Studio in Philadelphia featuring two styles of hand-painted, signed Nikes, an Air Force 1 Mid and an Air Jordan 4. For Back and Forth, Lugo reimagines the gallery space as a shop filled with functional items such as lamps, cups, bowls, clothing, prints, and more. The surface of the artwork is adorned with collaborative designs by graffiti artist Griff Jurchak. Shown alongside his signature ceramic sculptures, Lugo’s functional art solidifies his reputation for making art that is alive and meant to be lived with.

“I wonder what the streets could look like in a gallery; the intersections of my culture reflected in those corridors. Where the emblems of my community and my pottery thrive together. I consider the shoes, the mixtapes, the style, and all the ways that we stunt. And I ask, why can’t pots be a part of that? Throughout my life I’ve experienced a constant back and forth: people who look like me inspiring a society that steals from and oppresses them. My work is my response. What happens when our culture has the autonomy to be able to express itself, celebrate itself, and evolve free of hate? The permanence, broad cultural context, and lavishness of ceramics embody the reality posed with these objects. What does a lamp look like influenced by hip hop? What if the fire hydrants we grew up playing in became prized cups to drink out of? What if the graffiti on the streets adorned the walls of our homes and museums? What happens when something ephemeral, like writing our names on the wall, is put on a pot that lasts forever? My work is a testament to the preservation of our culture; wrestling with the temporary and eternal, back and forth, like red and meth.” Exhibition Statement by Roberto Lugo

Known for his graffiti-inspired porcelain sculptures, Roberto Lugo’s work centers around the notion of representation. Specifically, representing the culture and struggles faced within Black and Latinx communities through the lens of craft history. Lugo chooses to depict Civil Rights leaders, hip hop artists, musicians, writers, and cultural figures representative of Black and Latinx culture. Their likeness is elevated to a space that was historically inaccessible to people of color. Drawing from iconic forms, such as an urn or a teapot, Lugo works with the existing associations inherent to a form, while adding his own stylized imagery and content. The result is a complex, contradictory body of work that embodies both poverty and resilience as well as opulence and wealth. He combines status symbols from European society and urban America to create works of art that cross boundaries and weave together seemingly disparate cultures into one multifaceted vision.