Hard-Ass Friday Nite: The Art of Spain Rodriguez @ Andrew Edlin Gallery, NYC
In the pantheon of the originators of Juxtapoz, Spain Rodriguez is right near the top. He, along with the likes of Robert Williams, Robert Crumb and the Zap! artists, Spain redefined what comic book art could be, and, in so many ways, the lengths at which the politics and the American psyche could be drawn into comics. It's wonderful that now, after his representation with Andrew Edlin Gallery, they will present Hard-Ass Friday Nite: The Art of Spain Rodriguez, a major retrospective of "unique drawings for comics from the 1960s through the 1990s alongside sketchbooks, paintings, and ephemera" curated by Dan Nadel.
And this show seems long overdue and much appreciated. There seems to be a sense these days to remind ourselves of the bravery and bold works of underground comics in the 1960s and 70s. There was absurdity, salaciousness and fantasy, but there were political messages embedded in the work that feels rare in today's world. The show notes "In 1969 Spain moved to San Francisco, where he was invited to join Zap Comix by Robert Crumb. Two intensely detailed collaborative “jam” drawings for Zap by Spain, Crumb, Robert Williams, Victor Moscoso, and S. Clay Wilson will be on view."
Last year, Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez documentary was released, a good introduction and starting point to anyone who loves the genre. This retrospective, too, will be a rare chance to see a rebellious life's work. —Evan Pricco