Exhibition poster for:
‘Children of the Sun, Sol Searchin’’
02/12 → 03/05 2022
Simchowitz is pleased to present Brandon Deener: Children of the Sun, Sol Searchin’, a suite of new large-scale paintings that bring together the artist’s love for music and Memphis. On view from February 12 through March 5, 2022, this is Deener’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. Across colorful portraits and landscapes of Black life and leisure made with spray paint, pigment stick, and oil paint, Memphis emerges as a character. Born and raised in the Southern U.S. city known for its barbecue, civil rights history, and Black music traditions, Deener’s rhythmic and intuitive painting style mirrors the soul, funk, and free jazz of the city.
In the artist’s visual world, figures hover, as do cars and other forms. A kind of nostalgia and Black cool ensconces the signature noses and long-necked figures he renders as symbols of Black self-determination. Alternately, flying cars suspended in mid-air represent Deener’s interests in Afrofuturism, a mode of Black creative expression that has gained considerable currency since the early 1990s. Accelerations of time and technology mark conventional imaginings of the future. But Deener’s work invites viewers to slow down, to pause and consider what is necessary for Black liberation.
Along with references to popular culture and the New South, Deener infuses his work with contemporary art history, improvised aesthetic choices, and humor. In “Flying Around,” Deener reimagines Philip Guston’s “Riding Around” from 1969. By painting himself into the scene, he radically alters the original. Though the composition is arranged the same, Deener transposes key elements of Guston’s painting—the Klansmen, the factory—to depict a different kind of satire. The artist’s other figurative paintings demonstrate more of his painterly skills. Rhythm, color, and loose form tighten and come into view through details, like a carefully rendered car mirror or the rim of a car. In so doing, Deener transforms what counts as artistic genius and who can lay claim to the American South.
Text by Dr. Tiffany E. Barber, Scholar, Curator, Critic
Brandon Deener (b. 1982, Memphis, TN) is a self-taught artist living and working in Los Angeles. The figures in Deener’s paintings and works on paper are instantly identifiable by his signature elongation of their necks. This distinctive gesture indicates Black pride and dignity and harkens to ritual practices employed by various tribes across Africa. While his characters are surreal, he grants them charming familiarity with titles like “French braid over the kitchen” and “Drama at the family reunion”. Deener’s take on Afro-futurism conveys a confidence and optimism that the best is yet to come.
Children of the Sun, Sol Searchin’ opens on February 12, 2022, with an opening reception from 10AM - 6PM, and will run through March 5, 2022.