Troy Lamarr Chew II (b. 1992 in Los Angeles, CA) paints highly realist still life works rooted in the semiotics of hip hop. Like rap music, Chew’s paintings remix quotidien subjects from Black life and history in a manner that requires decoding of layered word play. His Slanguage series formally evokes Flemish style vanitas or the glass case displays of treats in Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings, but instead centers Black language and experience and reveals the extent to which Black culture has shaped American culture despite the entrenched exclusions of this lexicon from art history.
Inside peanut butter, outside jelly improbably stacks Air Jordan sneakers, a jar of peanut butter, and a glass bowl onto a concrete pedestal as a visual breakdown of slang for automobile rims, interiors, and windows respectively. The painting perfectly epitomizes Chew’s blend of cheeky humor with painstakingly careful technique.