Big Thanks to Annie Murney from Concrete Playground for the lovely words! This about wraps everything up, so on point!
Menace is Chris Yee’s much-anticipated debut exhibition, inviting you into his world of dystopian Americana, revelling in parallel universes, rap royalty and bitter rivalries. Amid menacing cobras, mythological beasts and fearless warriors, it’s a dangerous but exciting place to be.
Exploring techniques reminiscent of ’90s comics, such as tapered lineweights and aesthetic flatness, Yee’s black-and-white drawings are crammed with detail and hypnotic textures. His art abounds in urban absurdities, from Brooklyn grit to Chinatown sass. With continual references to the New York Yankees and the New York Police Department, the city seems to be Yee’s spiritual homeland.
He also experiments with the Yankees logo, with a double slash through the ‘Y’, evoking the appearance of a Chinese character. As well as being a nod towards the mass of overlapping subcultures that characterises this dense, bustling metropolis, the manipulated logo functions as Yee’s artistic brand. Much of his work revolves around American antiheroes fused together with manga content and visual stylings.
There’s also a strong narrative quality that characterises Yee’s anarchist aesthetic. For example, the humorous internal politics of Charlie’s Angels, with three thought bubbles simultaneously uttering the word ‘bitch’. There’s also the team of street-savvy teens sitting on the scaly back of a snarling crocodile, chewing on a confederate flag.
Another favourite is the delightfully convoluted work, part of the ‘Menace collection’, depicting a raging brawl atop the debris of the Statue of Liberty. The NYPD riot squad battles an eclectic mix of impromptu assassins and opportunist rebels, quipped with even more eclectic weapons, such as spears and molotov cocktails. It is sprawling and chaotic, hard-edged and dystopic; a work that reveals more and more the longer you devote to it.
As well as Yee’s Yankee logo, the American and Confederate flags figure prominently throughout his work, billowing from rooftops and strapped to the back of motorcycles. His more textual works blaze with phrases, such as ‘New York, New York Is Burning’, a punk-ish corruption of the Broadway catch phrase. These bold slogans are accompanied by edgy illustrations, such as salivating mongrels and leering gangsters. They could easily be the prototype for a motorcycle gang’s coat of arms, a hair away from being stitched onto the back of a leather jacket.
There’s something raw and viscerally enthralling about Yee’s black ink calligraphy and comic-esque epics. His meticulous anarcho-punk brand of art is stylistically accomplished and conceptually engaging.
By Annie Murney