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Harper’s Announces Lotus Blossom by Marcus Brutus

Marcus Brutus, Big Fun in the Big Town, 2023.

Harper’s has announced Lotus Blossom, New York-based artist Marcus Brutus’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. The presentation features new acrylic paintings by Brutus and opens Friday, April 19, 6–8pm.

Lotus Blossom shares its title with the jazz record by the late trumpeter and composer, Kenny Dorham. The exhibition, like Dorham’s composition, is a peripatetic ode to the singsong of spring. Within Lotus Blossom, Marcus Brutus captures the evergreen spirit of the season through movement-driven figuration inspired by Black American life. Dressed in wistful pastels, Brutus’s errant figures roam blooming landscapes and breezy homes as they relish in the promise of spring.

In works like Eden Roc and Ice! Ice! Ice! Baby!, athletic gesture encapsulates the roving pace of the season of rebirth. The protagonists of both works appear to take flight: in the former, a man sails across a turquoise sky as he flexes his tennis racket toward the viewer. We watch as a woman glides across an ice-skating rink in the latter; extending her leg upwards, she leans into a graceful stride. Both protagonists appear unfazed as they float forward with confidence: through their steadfast gazes, they welcome the unpredictable consequences that transition begets.

We continue to witness an air of trust in the face of regeneration within the works Ain’t No Way and Oh No Not My Baby. A woman adorned in brilliant red pants and a blue puffer jacket stands proudly amidst a verdant field of tall grasses in Ain’t No Way. As budding life overwhelms the background and the foreground, she challenges the observer with a striking, yet inviting glare. We see these daring eyes again across the face of the figure in Oh No Not My Baby. Amidst a quiet interior setting, a woman clad in billowing pants and a sharp blouse guards her flourishing houseplants from the onlooker here. Brutus applies the paint with free-flowing marks across both works: orbits of lively green streaks and dripping washes of thin pigment present light-struck foliage. As if beckoning the quick-paced change that comes with regrowth, the artist’s bold mark-making echoes the fearless dispositions of these subjects.

Repeatedly, Brutus’s determined figures summon the poetics of the turn of the season as they sojourn through serene environments. The artist renders the mercurial time of renewal with a resilient fervor: wandering brushstrokes and nostalgic palettes erect scenes of temporal shift and reawakening. Ultimately, across Lotus Blossom, Brutus embraces the change of spring with curious vigor. As he paints, he shepherds new beginnings with sinuous streams of pigment that swirl into unruly flora, enliven starchy Sunday gowns, and conjure imagery of Black American leisure.

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