Jayson Musson rose to fame in the hip-hop guise of his online video alter ego, Hennessy Youngman, who discourses hilariously and with rich profanity on the pretensions of contemporary art.
Jayson Musson aka Hennessy Youngman – How to Make an Art
Youngman appears in direct-address to the Internet at large in online episodes of a series titled “Art Thoughtz.” Most often, Youngman takes on the role of art critic or cultural critic while speaking to topics concerning art, race, gender, and popular culture.
In his video monologues, Youngman becomes a tutor to an audience of hopeful artists in search of success.
Exhibit of Abstract Art
In his nonvideo work, he also plays in the gap between high and low cultures but in a less biting, obliquely conceptual, Pop Art style.
This exhibition’s works are based on images satirizing Modern art that occasionally appeared in Ernie Bushmiller’s strip, “Nancy”.
Ernie Bushmiller’s comic strip, Nancy
They include three big, toylike painted fiberglass sculptures: one resembling a giant, four-scoop ice cream cone; a near-black vertical, serpentine form on a low, wheeled cart; and, also on wheels, a simplified fat pink man with a gaping hole through his abdomen. On the walls hang large, vividly colorful paintings composed of greatly enlarged marks copied from Bushmiller’s versions of abstract painting. A series of smaller, comical paintings replicates signs for art exhibitions and museums found in “Nancy” strips.
Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York
Musson shares with Bushmiller a certain skepticism about Modern art. They both react to its snob appeal and elitist obscurantism. Paradoxically, Musson and his art belong to precisely the kind of high-society art world that Bushmiller made fun of. Underlying the cheerful, visually attractive surfaces of this show’s works is a deeper ambivalence, a divided, insider-outsider state of mind that is expressed much more pointedly in Musson’s videos.
Jayson Musson’s exhibition was on display at SALON 94, Bowery, New York City
First published in New York Times