The New York Times remembers Robert Colescott:
Mr. Colescott represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1997, the first African-American to do so. By then he was well known for pitting the painterly against the political to create giddily joyful, destabilized compositions that satirized, and offended, without regard to race, creed, gender or political leaning.
People of all colors haunt Mr. Colescott’s paintings, mostly as chimerical stereotypes that exchange attributes freely. Their mottled skin tones often suggest one race seeping through another. Their tumultuous interactions evoke a volatile mixture of suspicion, desire, pain and vitality. His slurred shapes, wobbly drawing and patchy brushwork imply that no truths can be held to be self-evident, that life is mired in slippery layers of false piety, self-interest and greed, but also lust, pleasure and irreverence.
Steeped in history and art history, Mr. Colescott often found new uses and meanings for the landmarks of Western painting, borrowing compositions and characters from van Eyck, Goya and Manet and peppering his scenes with the Africanized faces from Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon.”
Robert Colescott, Painter Who Toyed With Race and Sex, Dies at 83 (New York Times)