EXPO CHICAGO, Booth 422

Braxton Garneau

 

IN/SITU

Paul Stephen Benjamin

 

April 11 – 14, 2024

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

 

Northern Trust Purchase Prize

The Art Newspaper

Culture Type

 

Installation View, Braxton Garneau, EXPO Chicago, 2024

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.

Braxton Garneau is a visual artist based in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). He holds a BFA from the University of Alberta and has had solo exhibitions at GAVLAK, Los Angeles (2023), Stride Gallery, Calgary (2021) and Parallel Space, Edmonton (2019). His work was featured in the retrospective exhibition Black Every Day at the Art Gallery of Alberta (2021), It’s About Time: Dancing Black in Canada 1900 – 1970 and Now at Mitchell Art Gallery (2020), curated by Seika Boye, and New Direction, curated by AJ Girard and Artx at Château Cîroc, Miami, Florida (2021). He was a finalist for the Salt Spring National Art Prize in 2023 and in 2024, he will have a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Alberta. Working in painting, sculpture, printmaking and installation, Garneau’s practice is rooted in costuming, transformation, and material honesty. Combining visual influences from classical European portraiture and Afro-Caribbean culture with harvested and hand-processed materials, he creates portraits, shrines, and corporeal forms that explore the sociocultural history of his Caribbean heritage. The materials used–raffia, sugarcane pulp, cowrie shells, asphalt–share inextricable colonial histories and cultural ties to those who’ve spent generations in close proximity to them. Garneau’s recent body of work specifically looks at the traditions of costuming and European influences on the development of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and its precursor “Canboulay” from the French “cannes brulés”, meaning burnt cane, as a slave revolt and parallel celebration formed in response to 18th century French plantation owners’ masquerades (Mas).

Paul Stephen Benjamin was born in Chicago, IL, and lives and works in Atlanta, GA. He earned his BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his MFA from Georgia State University in 2013. Recently Benjamin has exhibited at Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta, GA (2023), Blackness at the Montresso Art Foundation, Marrakesh, Morocco, (2023), The Thoma Foundation Art Vault, Santa Fe, NM (2022-2023), and a solo exhibition at the Van Every-Smith Galleries, David-son College, Davidson, NC (2022). He’s been included in solo and group exhibitions at a variety of institutions and art spaces, including Prospect.5 New Orleans, LA (2021-2022). Gavlak, Los Angeles, CA (2021), The Dirty South at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond VA (2021), David Lusk Gallery, Nashville, TN (2021), Crystal Bridges Museum and the Momentary, Bentonville, AR (2020), The MAC, Belfast, UK (2019), VCU Institute for Contemporary Art, Richmond, VA (2019), The Havana Biennial in Matanzas, Cuba (2019), Marianne Boesky Gallery, NY, NY (2019), Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA (2018), Telfair Museum Jepson Center, Savannah, GA (2018), The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2017), Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA (2017), High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (2016), among others. He has received a range of awards and fellowships, including The Hudgens Prize (2019), Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant (2019), Hambidge Dis-tinguished Fellowship (2019), The Southern Art Prize (2018), The State Fellow of Georgia (2018), Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (WAP) Fellow (2017), Artadia Award (2014), Winnie B. Chandler Fellowship, and the Forward Arts Emerging Artists Award. 

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.

Braxton Garneau is a visual artist based in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). He holds a BFA from the University of Alberta and has had solo exhibitions at GAVLAK, Los Angeles (2023), Stride Gallery, Calgary (2021) and Parallel Space, Edmonton (2019). His work was featured in the retrospective exhibition Black Every Day at the Art Gallery of Alberta (2021), It’s About Time: Dancing Black in Canada 1900 – 1970 and Now at Mitchell Art Gallery (2020), curated by Seika Boye, and New Direction, curated by AJ Girard and Artx at Château Cîroc, Miami, Florida (2021). He was a finalist for the Salt Spring National Art Prize in 2023 and in 2024, he will have a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Alberta. Working in painting, sculpture, printmaking and installation, Garneau’s practice is rooted in costuming, transformation, and material honesty. Combining visual influences from classical European portraiture and Afro-Caribbean culture with harvested and hand-processed materials, he creates portraits, shrines, and corporeal forms that explore the sociocultural history of his Caribbean heritage. The materials used–raffia, sugarcane pulp, cowrie shells, asphalt–share inextricable colonial histories and cultural ties to those who’ve spent generations in close proximity to them. Garneau’s recent body of work specifically looks at the traditions of costuming and European influences on the development of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and its precursor “Canboulay” from the French “cannes brulés”, meaning burnt cane, as a slave revolt and parallel celebration formed in response to 18th century French plantation owners’ masquerades (Mas).

Paul Stephen Benjamin was born in Chicago, IL, and lives and works in Atlanta, GA. He earned his BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his MFA from Georgia State University in 2013. Recently Benjamin has exhibited at Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta, GA (2023), Blackness at the Montresso Art Foundation, Marrakesh, Morocco, (2023), The Thoma Foundation Art Vault, Santa Fe, NM (2022-2023), and a solo exhibition at the Van Every-Smith Galleries, David-son College, Davidson, NC (2022). He’s been included in solo and group exhibitions at a variety of institutions and art spaces, including Prospect.5 New Orleans, LA (2021-2022). Gavlak, Los Angeles, CA (2021), The Dirty South at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond VA (2021), David Lusk Gallery, Nashville, TN (2021), Crystal Bridges Museum and the Momentary, Bentonville, AR (2020), The MAC, Belfast, UK (2019), VCU Institute for Contemporary Art, Richmond, VA (2019), The Havana Biennial in Matanzas, Cuba (2019), Marianne Boesky Gallery, NY, NY (2019), Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA (2018), Telfair Museum Jepson Center, Savannah, GA (2018), The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2017), Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA (2017), High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (2016), among others. He has received a range of awards and fellowships, including The Hudgens Prize (2019), Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant (2019), Hambidge Dis-tinguished Fellowship (2019), The Southern Art Prize (2018), The State Fellow of Georgia (2018), Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (WAP) Fellow (2017), Artadia Award (2014), Winnie B. Chandler Fellowship, and the Forward Arts Emerging Artists Award. 

Installation View, Braxton Garneau, EXPO Chicago, 2024
 
Installation View, Braxton Garneau, EXPO Chicago, 2024
 

Pitch Lake (Pietà), 2024

asphalt and acrylic on canvas with raffia

60 x 60 in

 

Pitch Lake (Scarlet Ibis), 2024

asphalt and acrylic on canvas with raffia

60 x 30 in

 

Pitch Lake (Lily Pad), 2024

asphalt and acrylic on canvas with raffia

60 x 30 in

 

Pitch Lake (Rock), 2024

asphalt and acrylic on canvas with raffia

60 x 30 in

 

Pitch Lake (Wade I), 2024

asphalt and acrylic on canvas with raffia

24 x 60 in

 

Pitch Lake (Wade II), 2024

asphalt and acrylic on canvas with raffia

24 x 60 in

Pitch Lake (Wade III), 2024

asphalt and acrylic on canvas with raffia

24 x 60 in