- November 8, 2001 - January 28, 2002
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Paintings on Paper is an exhibit of small-scale works (1996-1999) by provocative Boston-based artist Laylah Ali. Ali’s comic book-like figures, genderless with bulbous green heads and a variety of pared-down uniforms, are depicted in the midst of mysterious unfolding dramas. At first glance, her Greenheads are colorful and inviting like illustrations from a comic strip or children’s book. Upon closer examination, though, the disturbing narratives become clear. Ali, who is African-American, has created surreal figures that seem to have undergone numerous cultural and racial transmutations. Ali’s enigmatic narratives, with so many details left unarticulated, are each easily applied to any number of historical time periods worldwide. From Nazi Germany, to the Salem witch trials, to domestic and school violence, Ali’s cartoonish figures offer not just oddly timeless pictures of history, but also mirrors of the present and foreboding visions of the future.