Comic Relief: Hebru Brantley’s Characters are Straight Outta Saturday Morning

NEW YORK—Visitors to the Pool Art Fair roamed from room to room at the Flatiron Hotel, viewing art and chatting with artists and their representatives. Hebru Brantley was in Room 302 where refreshing, colorful and comical canvases from his “Afro-Futuristic” series were propped on chairs and his illustrations on paper, which venture into many other themes, filled two thick portfolios on the beds.

The Chicago artist’s work is inspired by Saturday morning cartoons and graffiti. His aesthetic is distinct, but given his inspiration and the Asian features of some of his characters, the work conjures comparisons to Japanese anime and artists such as Yoshitomo Nara, whose paintings are also driven by cartoons, as well as Japan’s post-war generation of “latch key” kids. The characters Brantley has created have enough personality to live beyond his canvases, which look like outtakes from an animated series. Brantley’s artist statement says his paintings are “a peak into his mind.” No doubt it is a riot of activity, a cultural sponge driven by what’s next.

All photos by Arts Observer

Above, Many of the characters wear flight helmets and goggles. Top of page, “Thai Fighter.”

From left, “Thai Fighter” and “Angel A.”

“Selfish Little Jackass.”

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