Recent Project


Or has he by way of the language caught the German mania for name-giving, dividing the Creation finer and finer, analyzing, setting namer more hopelessly apart from named, even to bringing in the mathematics of combination, tacking together established nouns to get new ones, the insanely, endlessly diddling play of a chemist whose molecules are words.
Thomas Pynchon

TRUEBLACK is a composition of drawing, writing, graphic design and offset printing techniques. It is meant to be mass produced and distributed. This project appropriates the languages of abstraction (expressive of a heroic ideal) and of paint-by-numbers (expressive of a more popular idea of art). The colors used are black, red, brown, gray and the white of the page. Care is given in the printing of the poster to keep the colors within the range of the original drawing.

The text itself is a sampling of words and phrases that may come to mind if one were called upon to view (or even write) the world as through a black prism. The black rainbow that such a prism allows one to see is brilliant and would crystallize a world-view at once postmodern, post-Civil Rights, post-feminist and post-black. That is, it would require one to open oneself to experiencing the world from a vantage point where all matter referenced the color and the ethnic designation black.

Thematically speaking, the work is suffused with cultural, political and philosophical positions, controversies, issues, etc., treated primarily from an avant-gardist/leftist orientation. Language, its horrible limitedness and its perfect formula for abstraction, is at stake in this project. The temporal and spatial dimensions of language—in particular, poetry— interest me because poetry is perhaps the only art form that has not been recuperated by the market. It brings the spatial registers and psychic and political spaces that are available in abstraction to the fore.

The text in this work is meant to disrupt the traditional idea of abstraction as a refuge from care and trouble. The fragility of the marks (stains, spills, drips, pours) and instability of the placement of numbers, scattered in no particular pattern, further enhance the issues of this work regarding the relationship between the namer and the named.

Arnold J. Kemp, New York, 2008
The epigraph is from Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
(New York: Viking Penguin, 1973), 391.
^  back to top
True Black Poster