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Reginald Sylvester II at Roberts Projects


Stepping into Reginald Sylvester II’s solo exhibition T-1000 at Roberts Projects instantly sets you into a post-apocalyptic greyscale world. This is in part due to his title (which references a character from Terminator 2 that has the body of a police officer but can shift into liquid to take on any form), but largely due to Sylvester’s honed aesthetic that while abstract references industrial metal detritus. Some of his paintings are done on rubber (and some with canvas) which he stretches over metal bars often leaving bits of the understructure exposed, like bones beneath skin. The minimal and monochrome paint application on his paintings create trompe l’oeil surfaces that resemble slabs of discarded metal — on most, bits of fabric, tarp, or studio debris add textural elements. 

Within this dystopia, a reverence for art history seems to pervade: Synthesis provides a particularly Hesse-ian moment as a cord dangles in the negative space of an L-shaped canvas; the slash in Fission recalls a Robert Morris felt piece; the general materiality of the works call to minimalism’s fascination with steel. In this way, Sylvester’s works straddle genres of minimalism, abstraction, and sci-fi with an eye toward an ominous future dystopia. 

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Photo: Reginald Sylvester II, Synthesis, 2023. Acrylic, studio debris, cord and steel beam on rubber over exposed substrate. 82 x 112 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects. Los Angeles, California
Photo: Daniel Greer.