EXPO CHICAGO, Booth 422

Braxton Garneau

 

IN/SITU

Paul Stephen Benjamin

 

April 11 – 14, 2024

Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Efraín López  is pleased to announce details of its presentation at EXPO Chicago with a solo presentation of works by Braxton Garneau in the fair’s EXPOSURE section.  Garneau will present a new series of paintings continuing his exploration of materiality and portraiture. Garneau is interested in what he refers to as “material honesty,” or the idea that certain energies exist in materials, specifically living materials, that can imbue the work with their power. His portraits are built up using asphalt,  a natural emulsion of mineral elements and bitumen, which carries personal significance for the artist. Asphalt connects the journey Garneau’s grandparents took from Trinidad, home of the world’s largest naturally exposed deposit of asphalt, known as Pitch Lake, to the oil sands in Northern Alberta, where his grandfather came to work in the 1960’s during an influx of Caribbean immigration. While associated closely with extraction and the petroleum industry in North America, in Trinidad, Pitch Lake is a generative environment that locals consider to be a fountain of life that cures ailments. For Garneau, the use of asphalt instills his portraits with the energy and life of this natural material, while also grounding his work in the inextricable colonial histories, patterns of migration and cultural ties of generations of Caribbeans.  

 

As part of the fair’s INSITU section, Paul Stephen Benjamin will present his monumental Black Flag, 2024 a freestanding black cotton flag with custom flagpole. Initially appearing monochromatic, upon approach, the nuanced shades and textures of black reveal the 50 stars and 13 stripes of the iconic American flag. Benjamin continues in a long lineage of artists who have used the American flag in their work. Benjamin himself has worked with the iconography of the flag for 20 years, including the 2016  video installation God Bless America featuring Aretha Franklin and Lil’ Wayne, and his 2021 monotypes Black Flag #1 and Black Flag #2 shown in the recent exhibition Black Form at the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College, Davidson, NC. Black Flag continues Benjamin’s poetic practice of mining art, cultural and national histories to open up a space where individuals bring their own readings to the work. In his work, Benjamin places protest and patriotism side by side, without specific political agenda. Understandings of national and cultural identity, American history and Black experience, are nuances he invites each viewer to bring to the work. In his practice, Benjamin creates a space of meditation where the color black, and its material, aesthetic, conceptual, social, cultural and linguistic forms, can be considered. The interpretations of each viewer mirrors their own understandings and experiences back to them, opening up a space for discourse, rather than didactics.

Efraín López  is pleased to announce details of its presentation at EXPO Chicago with a solo presentation of works by Braxton Garneau in the fair’s EXPOSURE section.  Garneau will present a new series of paintings continuing his exploration of materiality and portraiture. Garneau is interested in what he refers to as “material honesty,” or the idea that certain energies exist in materials, specifically living materials, that can imbue the work with their power. His portraits are built up using asphalt,  a natural emulsion of mineral elements and bitumen, which carries personal significance for the artist. Asphalt connects the journey Garneau’s grandparents took from Trinidad, home of the world’s largest naturally exposed deposit of asphalt, known as Pitch Lake, to the oil sands in Northern Alberta, where his grandfather came to work in the 1960’s during an influx of Caribbean immigration. While associated closely with extraction and the petroleum industry in North America, in Trinidad, Pitch Lake is a generative environment that locals consider to be a fountain of life that cures ailments. For Garneau, the use of asphalt instills his portraits with the energy and life of this natural material, while also grounding his work in the inextricable colonial histories, patterns of migration and cultural ties of generations of Caribbeans.  

 

As part of the fair’s INSITU section, Paul Stephen Benjamin will present his monumental Black Flag, 2024 a freestanding black cotton flag with custom flagpole. Initially appearing monochromatic, upon approach, the nuanced shades and textures of black reveal the 50 stars and 13 stripes of the iconic American flag. Benjamin continues in a long lineage of artists who have used the American flag in their work. Benjamin himself has worked with the iconography of the flag for 20 years, including the 2016  video installation God Bless America featuring Aretha Franklin and Lil’ Wayne, and his 2021 monotypes Black Flag #1 and Black Flag #2 shown in the recent exhibition Black Form at the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College, Davidson, NC. Black Flag continues Benjamin’s poetic practice of mining art, cultural and national histories to open up a space where individuals bring their own readings to the work. In his work, Benjamin places protest and patriotism side by side, without specific political agenda. Understandings of national and cultural identity, American history and Black experience, are nuances he invites each viewer to bring to the work. In his practice, Benjamin creates a space of meditation where the color black, and its material, aesthetic, conceptual, social, cultural and linguistic forms, can be considered. The interpretations of each viewer mirrors their own understandings and experiences back to them, opening up a space for discourse, rather than didactics.

Installation view, Other Ways, 2024, Efraín López, New York  
 
Installation view, Other Ways, 2024, Efraín López, New York