Nostalgia is a constant point of reference for many creatives. The generation before me had MJ (both of them), Pac, Biggie, The Bones Brigade, E30 Beamers and so much more. These are a few of the cultural icons passed down generations. Through the use of nostalgia creatives alike will find inspiration. This is evident in the resurgence of fashion trends, and remakes of movies, artist employ this tactic when appropriating art history and so on and so forth.
This is where Reginald Sylvester II comes in. First engaging with the art world through his passion for streetwear, Sylvester looked to the artists that frequently collaborated with cult brands as guiding figures in developing his own process. In an interview Sylvester said "When I first started, I was more so inspired by Futura, KAWS, Takashi Murakami and the energy that they gave me.”
In the case of Wonderful Place, his first exhibition that really began to interest me, Sylvester plays with his trippy technicolor 90s childhood—smashing Bart into Homer, Arnold into Gerald—for a powerfully vibrant re-imagination of the figures that raised him. You see the artists of our time or artists of the past picking things out of pop culture that relate to them. KAWS did the Kimpsons and Warhol chose figures like Muhammad Ali and Madonna” To Sylvester growing up in 90’s America shows like Hey Arnold relate to his lifestyle and his experiences growing up.
Since seeing early success his style has since changed. Though still within the realm of abstraction his new body of work is darker and more dramatic, rich tones offset hits of saturation, oil sticks and pastel smudges mimic ash and burn marks. Everything is a bit more confusing to the eye while still complementary of each other. I imagine his new process to be reminiscent of Carvagio and Basquiat, brutish yet dynamic. Regardless of where his style is now its clear the path Sylvester took was chalk full of nostalgia. Its a key component of our lives. Its keeps us connected to the past while constantly inspiring the future.