Watercolor Conversation

March 12, 2012 | by By Brett Sokol | Pursuits

Kyle Trowbridge’s Untitled (Il Duce), 2006; Untitled (Naïve Terrorism), 2006 (left)

Dark, dark, dark. Whatever his chosen medium, Miami artist Kyle Trowbridge employs a very black sense of comedy. Yet the laughs are never cheap, and although the self-described “social critic” injects a provocative subtext into his work, the takeaway is anything but dogmatic. There’s empathy beneath his anger—as seen in his all-too-rarely exhibited drawings, a series of which recently hung at the University of Miami’s Wynwood Project Space for that school’s art department faculty show. A masterful draftsman, Trowbridge depicts a young boy caught somewhere between the cheery security of childhood and the cruel realities of onsetting adolescence. With artfully dripped tea stains and watercolors adding to the dissipating dream state, Trowbridge’s stand-in hoists a paper airplane skyward and invokes the piece’s punch line: CRITICS DISMISS MY WORK AS NAÏVE TERRORISM. In another drawing from this set, an innocent smile beams out from beneath a paper admiral’s crown: IT WAS DURING RECESS ONE DAY THAT MY NICKNAME “IL DUCE” FIRST STUCK. Barbed self-portraits? Perhaps they’re simply reminders that even the most heinous crimes of the past century were enacted by men who—in their earliest days—once roamed playgrounds. As Trowbridge explained to the Cultist blog, “It’s easy to render something extreme or shocking, but the truly scary stuff occurs when I just set a suggestive stage obscured in humor and allow the viewers to fill in the blanks.”

The Politics of Time, featuring artwork by Kyle Trowbridge, is at the Dorsch Gallery through March 31, 151 NW 24th St., Miami, 305-576-1278.

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