“Undercover Brother” comes a year after four arts institutions announced the postponement of a Guston retrospective, citing concerns about his images of the Ku Klux Klan. Many decried the decision, baffled by museums’ reluctance to provide contextual context on the work. Guston, who was Jewish and witnessed the Klan’s brutal anti-Semitism while growing up in Los Angeles, used the hooded figures to explore themes of complicity, self-hatred, and the banality of supremacy. White. Strother was fascinated by these recent debates, explaining that “just the idea of ownership over imagery, and who is licensed to talk about certain images and things, is always interesting.”
Strother is used to playing with the idea of artistic authority or stylistic property. In 2015, Strother and his partner, graphic designer Yuri Ogita, co-founded Colored Publishing, an independent press dedicated to artists’ books, zines, prints and T-shirts. Imbued with the DIY and punk ethos of Strother’s formative years as a young skater in West Covina, Calif., The press reflects the views of artists indifferent to the impulses of the mainstream art world. and bypass the stagnant tastes and structure of the traditional publishing industry. In addition to clothing and publications, Colored Publishing also sold ceramic containers from Strother, including a series of terracotta ashtrays called “White Trash Receptacles”. Inspired by a character from the TV series Atlanta sporting a ‘white face’, the ashtrays are another example of Strother’s eccentric humor, this time around, displayed at art book fairs instead of art galleries.