‘Saints & Shepherds’
Curated by Thinkspace Projects and the FWMoA
Saints & Shepherds is an exploration of modern-day mythology through the contemporary Afro-Futuristic lens of Hebru Brantley. All of us at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art want to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone that has come through so far during the opening week of the exhibition. It has been an amazing experience to watch Hebru’s fans interacting with the exhibit and we have heard some amazing stories so far and can not wait to hear from everyone as they visit over the months ahead. We will be sharing details soon on upcoming special events and programming that the museum has planned for early 2022 in conjunction with ’Saints & Shepherds’.
“As an art historian specializing in Contemporary Art, and as an art history professor and museum director for thirty-five-plus years, I’ve charted and guided the careers of quite a number of emerging contemporary artists. That said, I have to say that when my radar picked up on Hebru Brantley’s work the alert alarm beeped beyond all expectations. Hebru inhaled everything that Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein breathed out and transformed it into a whole new form of expression which, frankly, gave new life to everything the Pop Art movement was trying to accomplish. More than that, is that Hebru is a new genre unto himself. His subjects and their narratives speak to each of us in a more personal way than any of the Pop artists ever could of imagined. Hebru Brantley is both a contemporary pioneer and a powerhouse who is playing a leadership role in challenging contemporary art to step up its game and, once again, play a role in advancing american culture.” – Charles Shepard / FWMoA CEO
“Brantley’s newest large-scale works add presence and weight to the ever-growing mythos of Afro-futurism. Intimate drawings and sketches accompany his refined paintings and complete one another with an almost invisible narrative.” – Josef Zimmerman / Curator of Contemporary Art at FWMoA
“I’ve known Hebru for well over a decade now and I have always wanted to do something next level with him. I knew an institutional level show in the MidWest would be key, given his importance to the Chicago art scene. After several shows together with the amazing team at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, I knew the timing was right to discuss a major showing for Hebru to help showcase his impact on an entire generation of young creatives. Without question, Brantley is one of the most important artists of our time, breaking molds and invisible barriers at almost every turn of his career thus far.” – Andrew Hosner / curator and co-owner of Thinkspace Projects (Los Angeles)
In Brantley’s Negros Mythos world, heroes can be Saints and Shepherds – Shepherds, the Purveyors of Culture, and Saints: the ‘outliers’ – those that are blossoming into new leaders by bringing foward a new way of thought. Saints often have their story embellished and revered when they pass on, while in their lifetime their ideas or ways are not always welcomed. This exhibition is a celebration of being a Shepherd and a Saint, echoing the process of going from adolescence to adulthood, from supporter to leader.
In the context of Sainthood, we are challenged to explore the definition of a hero. Themes of idolization and leadership are explored. In the current cultural system, previously accepted norms and expectations are being called to question and one is increasingly challenged to choose who their role models are based on their own set of values. This show explores the dichotomy of breaking down past role models by cultural reappropriation, while also building them up in the celebration of mythology itself. There is also a duality in the concept of reappropriation – where the current culture has often appropriated aspects of black culture, Hebru flips this concept, reimagining traditionally Anglo-Saxon superheroes as people of color.
About Hebru Brantley:
Hebru Brantley creates narrative-driven work revolving around his conceptualized iconic characters which are utilized to address complex ideas around nostalgia, the mental psyche, power, and hope. The color palettes, pop-art motifs, and characters themselves create accessibility around Brantley’s layered and multifaceted beliefs. Majorly influenced by the South Side of Chicago’s Afro Cobra movement in the 1960s and 70s, Brantley uses the lineage of mural and graffiti work as a frame to explore his inquiries. Brantley applies a plethora of mediums from oil, acrylic, watercolor and spray paint to non-traditional mediums such as coffee and tea. Brantley’s work challenges the traditional view of the hero or protagonist and his work insists on a contemporary and distinct narrative that shapes and impacts the viewer’s gaze.
Recognized internationally, Hebru Brantley has exhibited in Chicago, Hong Kong, London, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York including Art Basel Switzerland, Art Basel Miami, Scope NYC, and Frieze London. Brantley has been recognized in publications including the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, WWD, HypeBeast, Complex Magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the New York Post.
Collectors of his work include LeBron James, Jay-Z & Beyonce, Lenny Kravitz, George Lucas, and Rahm Emanuel, among others. Brantley has collaborated with brands like Nike, Hublot, and Adidas.
In October 2019, Brantley opened an experiential fine art installation fueled by the narrative of his characters FLYBOY and LIL MAMA. The 6,000-square-foot installation in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood hosted over 23,000 ticketed guests and offered them limited-edition merchandise. Brantley currently resides in Los Angeles where he is expanding into content creation including the adaptation of the FLYBOY Universe through his media company, Angry Hero.
Brantley earned a B.A. in Film from Clark Atlanta University and has a background in Design and Media Illustration.
On view December 4, 2021 through March 6, 2022 at:
Fort Wayne Museum of Art
311 E. Main Street
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Visiting the exhibition: Sunday 12-5pm | Tuesday to Saturday 10am-6pm | Thursday open late 10am-8pm | closed on Mondays and major holidays$8 Adults / $6 Seniors 65+ / $20 Families / Free Admission every Thursday from 5-8pm – Full details at www.fwmoa.org.