Reginald K. Gee
In Convention Speaker, a neo-Expressionistic work from 1999, Gee transforms what otherwise might be a mundane subject into a complex figure that is both comical and menacing. With his gnashing teeth, his skull and mouth outlined in blood-red, his sunken, hollow eyes, and truncated body, the speaker is transformed into an indeterminate, unsettling figure. Executed with bright colors and gestural brush work, as well as a skull for a head, the painting references one of Gee’s influences, Jean-Michel Basquiat. The painting is at once figural and abstracted, which also contributes to the uncanny nature and uncertain anatomy of the figure. Are the gesticulating forearms those of the speaker, or do they represent an applauding audience? The painting expertly represents the simultaneously compelling and terrifying power of its subject.
33" x 28" art
40 3/4" x 35 3/4" frame
Framed to conservation standards in a gold traditional moulding and glazed with UF5 Plexiglass that filters 99% of UV rays to inhibit fading.
Reginald K. Gee was born in Milwaukee on April 28, 1964 to Native American and African American parents and spent most of his childhood on the northwest side of Milwaukee in the Havenwoods neighborhood. Gee has been creating art since 1982, and his professional art debut began in 1986 at an outdoor exhibition at Milwaukee’s Performing Arts Center. Like Prophet William J. Blackmon and Simon Sparrow, Gee is primarily self-taught. He refers to himself as a visionary Neo-Expressionist. Like the Neo-Expressionists, his work is characterized by its raw depiction of subjects, the use of textural and expressive brushwork and intense colors. According to Sotheby’s auction house, Neo-Expressionist art, “[a]s a reflection of the postmodern world,” is characterized by a “sense of tension, alienation and ambiguity” and is “often accompanied by playfulness and parody.” Gee counts among his artistic influences Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and David Salle. He is a brilliant colorist who has produced a body of work numbering in the hundreds, including a series of pastels on brown paper bags executed from 1999-2007, some of which were among the works shown at a 25-year retrospective at the David Barnett Gallery in 2013. The artist has been featured at the Outsider Art Fair in New York, the National Black Fine Arts Show, and the Chicago Black Art Expo. In 2002, two of Gee’s paintings, The Inspiration and Honest Crowd, were selected for inclusion in a Smithsonian traveling exhibition honoring the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Another Gee painting, Nationwide Tobacco Ban, c 1998, was chosen for a campaign against smoking sponsored by the American Lung Association. According to the Milwaukee Journal in 1999, the artist had a spiritual epiphany that compelled him to move to San Francisco, start a ministry among the homeless, and continue to pursue the art career he began in Milwaukee.