Hiram Van Gordon Gallery (Tennessee State University) / 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd. August 14, 2017 - September 18, 2017

Xavier Payne, Brandon Van Leer

Hiram van Gordon Gallery presents Guardians of the Culture featuring Xavier Payne and Brandon Van Leer. These young artists bring two different ways to look at art making. Xavier Payne has a distinct way of portraying black popular culture, even coining the term “Black Pop, which refers to the value of African American influence on American culture.” His portraits memorialize nostalgic images, recreating them in bright, clean colors and playing with shapes and new views of composition. Brandon Van Leer walks a more traditional mode of art constructing, recreating iconic figures in pencil for a realistic approach to replication.

The two artists portray some of the same iconic black individuals, from boxers to singers, in their own style. XPayne’s bright pops of color create a sense of intimacy between the figure and viewer. They are imaginative and dreamy, raw and rousing. Van Leer finds his artistic voice through recreating images of personas from his youth, drawing them to a T with detail and exactness that makes them hyper-real and illuminates their cultural and personal value to the artist.

Through these two interpretations, the artists provide us with a chance to consider how we are affected and intrigued by black cultural icons and imagery. Guardians of the Culture reveals the diverse ways that artists re-create nostalgic narratives to have contemporary potency.