Critiquing the Spectacle: A Review of Jake Troyli at Monique Meloche

CAIRA MOREIRA-BROWN, Newcity Art , March 26, 2022

Blackness again takes the forefront in Jake Troyli’s new exhibition at Monique Meloche, his second solo presentation with the gallery. “Slow Clap” drives Troyli’s complicated narratives surrounding Blackness, with exuberant colors and large-scale works. Between the use of poignant hues and humor, the viewer experiences a conversation on race that takes the higher road.


New large-scale images address the feelings of otherness in Black and brown communities. “The High Dive”(2022), reveals a Black-brown man, his hair styled into a large Afro and wearing an American flag outfit, at the top of a diving board. This image brings up elements of the conversation in America of Black athletes and the otherness of Blackness when addressing athleticism. As there is only one figure in the painting the focus of the viewer lies on him. Black athletes are tied to success in their respective fields but this can create an inhumane interaction when watching the sport. In “The High Dive,” the figure has accentuated stereotypical Black features in regards to the genitals, buttocks and hair, making him a spectacle and relieving him of his vulnerability as a Black individual. In contradiction to these assets, the figure adorns a facial expression of dismay. A similar feeling of alienation is depicted in the paintings “Superfan” and “The Crowd Surfer,” where a nude Black figure—their head located off the canvas—is clutched at by white hands.