Back to the Future with Nyame Brown: A BAIA Virtual Exhibit

By D. Amari Jackson

"The selection of work for the exhibition was curated with a conceptual influence from the W.E.B. Dubois book, The Comet, in which he mentions a device called a "Mega scope." The Mega scope can see across space and time, enabling an African American to see their ancestors and future descendants. Some contemporary African scholars consider him to be an early Afrofuturist. With this notion, I curated portraits and scenes of my works suggestive of the speculative worlds and characters that populate them.

I make painting/drawing immersive installations. Currently, my paintings are on blackboards, playing with different levels of finish in a single composition. My work is inspired by hip hop’s bravado, style, and individual expression. This is the feeling I put into the unique fashion designs adorning my characters and the visual texture when world-building. I am implicit and embedded in the narratives, as a character on an unfolding journey. My storytelling carries culture like the African American tradition and calls for expanding the idiom through improvisation, riffing, and rupturing. 

Entangling my allegory with a real location creates a liminal space between myth and reality - deepening the narrative, like the East Indian Ramayana, the largest epic in world literature, The Aeneid by Virgil, and Dante's Inferno by Dante Alighieri. Amos Tutuola, author of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, created new myths within traditional stories and shaped them into his own fantastic narrative.  I take similar agency to create new myths using the Black Diaspora as a significant resource for my visual allegories."  -- Nyame Brown

"Legendary" by Nyame Brown
2 x 3 feet, oil on blackboard, (2020) -- unframed[/caption]


When it comes to Black visual culture, artist Nyame Oulynji Brown references the past and reimagines the present while simultaneously depicting a future unbound by traditional or current narratives of Blackness. Consistently, Brown’s work is at least as representative of black hole physics as it is of contemporary notions of race given the San Francisco-based Afrofuturist is known to create images that collapse time and space, that move beyond past, present, and future to explore an artistic singularity oscillating with rich black matter.  

For Brown, while Black Lives Matter, Black Matter Lives as his art operates within, between, and beyond both spaces, pushing for social transformation while challenging perceived cultural boundaries and existing notions of identity, both individual and communal. Or, as his biography states, “Reimagining contemporary notions of Blackness in visual culture, he challenges traditional representation and subverts it for a richer surreal language found in folklore and African American hyperbole. His depictions provide different ways to access African American culture through an approach that seeks social transformation and community revolution...”

"Invisibleman Coding" by Nyame Brown
6 x 4 feet, watercolor on paper (2021) --

Brown’s use of media is as diverse as his take on the African Diaspora, employing painting, drawing, cut paper, blackboards, augmented reality, gaming, Hip Hop, and fashion. As a visual storyteller, he blends historical narrative and folklore with Afro-surreal aesthetics while pulling from diasporic cultural practices and symbols to create worlds of contemporary Black mythologies.

Black Art In America is honored to present a virtual exhibit featuring Nyame Brown, an award-winning artist, lecturer, teacher, and a recipient of numerous residencies.  The virtual exhibit will run here at BAIA from June 27 through July 18.  Please join us in exploring the inspired, time-warping art of Nyame Brown.

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