When artists make art they expose themselves to examination by others. Even artists who create without emotion or connection to the individual pieces of art, such as an airbrush artist who produces one hundred of the same design over and over, daily, eventually there will be a piece of the artist personality laced inside of one of those designs. A swirl on the end of the letters, his favorite ghosting effect. His essence will remain in the paint.
When the artist is motivated and pushed by external motivations, he will create the opportunity to display his art. He will put his innermost into each specialized piece. Depending upon the contents of the artist, that essence might vary.
“I’ve always thought it to be the responsibility of the artist to help restore a degree of dignity, integrity, and sense of humanity,” explained visual artist Knowledge Bennett, owner of the new Know Contemporary Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, California.
Fusing contemporary images with large-scale screen printing, Bennett’s work makes statements concerning the realities of our current society, focused on the African American experience.
Stark, monotone images contrast against the sometimes vibrant colors of each piece. Those colors clash like the truth springing from the montages of messages cut and pasted together with classic newspaper footage. Nixon stares at the viewers, his multiple faces, some in the inverse, some standing taller than the crowd. Images of Obama in a Clint Eastwood stance multiply like the end of a drunken western brawl. Madonna still loving Pac, follows you down the back hallways, and the leaders of nations are screaming curses, combined.
Bennet’s core essence yells through these pieces. It is a loud demand for the acknowledgment of a few of the atrocities done by the government to African Americans living throughout its history. It yells, “Stop! Look at what you have done! Here is the proof.” Then it silently waits for a reply.
In its clear delivery, it goes down two paths. The first path is described previously, but the second is a more commercial approach to making fine art. To get there, viewers must venture deeper into the rabbit hole of Bennett’s essence. A set of white steps spreads across the gallery to guide your ascent up into the lighter realms of ‘In Retrospect’ like a stairway to the heavenly understanding of our society. Bennett looks back and the sights are filled with inspiration from Andy Warhol.
If Warhol and Bennett were graffiti artists, they would definitely have to battle with 8-foot tall colorful installations. Instead, since Warhol is no longer with us, Bennett pays homage to a great of creativity through huge prints of Coca-Cola bottles and photocopy stencil faces with bright color fills. Through this medium, Bennett is able to connect modern concepts that reach into the African American experience deeper than Warhol ever could watching from outside the community inside his legendary studios. Although, like Warhol, Bennett’s studio is a gathering of creative greats and intellectual success that swarm over the gloss white floors as so many fish.
Only celebrities line the walls in the upper gallery. Their realities overpowered by Bennett’s intellectual creativity. Each piece a conversation unto itself and the topics range from best rapper, who died first, to the one with the most impact on society.
Through it all, questions keep emerging and that is the true strength of this gallery of mutated images and crossbreed concepts. Curiosity explodes in between those white walls, even the children attending are pointing and looking for answers.
This showing of Knowledge Bennett’s ‘In Retrospect, A Look Back While Moving Forward’ is a must-see for any art lover and will remain open to the public Monday through Thursday 12 until 5 pm. Families are encouraged to come and enjoy the art.
For more information about KNOWLEDGE BENNETT: IN RETROSPECT,
A Look Back While Moving Forward, contact the gallery at info@TheKNOWContemporary.com or at +1.213.395.0931.