David Leggett adopts a panoply of visual references in his collages. Folding in various contradictions, these works deal with relationships that are at once visual, cultural, and personal. Earlier 20th-century cartoon mascots meet more recent “softened” versions, composed between craft materials, spilled coffee, spray paint, screen prints, and found photography. A large proportion of negative space often holds these elements in place, guiding the push and pull of their potential meaning. In tandem with tagline graphics, Leggett candidly switches the narrative over and over, adapting the language of satire to approach heavy-handed clichés from another direction.
As these comedic strategies enter the frame, Leggett’s works press at a familiarity and cultural nostalgia that is amplified as certain characters have been adapted (or altogether disappeared) for the times. The likenesses of Homey D. Clown, Alfred E. Neuman, and the (‘80s) Hamburglar appear alongside the Pink Panther, Eazy-E, Divine, Barney Fife, Pogo the clown, and GG Allin, as well as other more obscure icons and found images. Placed within an art historical lineage, Leggett’s comic style is connected to the strange grotesquerie of the Chicago Imagists. More immediately, words themselves often inform these works, whereby Leggett might begin with a title in mind (They’ll start the fire and charge you for putting it out or The whites in their eyes) and construct the collage in relation to it. Through this process, Leggett composes a continual system of collection, addition, transfiguration, and subjugation, just as their references do.
David Leggett (b. 1980) received MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2007) and a BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design (2003), before attending Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2010). His work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles (2020) and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago (2017, 2019) and in group exhibitions at James Fuentes Gallery, New York; Various Small Fires, Los Angeles; Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, North Carolina; Kunstverein Langenhagen, Germany; and Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, Luxembourg.
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