From an upbringing surrounded in Memphis by music, and a prominent musical career, Brandon Deener’s artistic path has (relatively) recently, shifted to visual expression. His groundbreaking work is quickly turning the artist into a pioneer in Afrofuturistic Contemporary Art. Deener’s dedication to portraiture reflects in the subjecthood and identity of afro individuals. Through his style, the gracious, elongated necks of his subjects present to the viewer a contemplative layer of deeper questions asked through his work. Read below to learn more about the artist, his fascinating upbringing, and his barrier-breaking work.
Embouchure Change, 2020®, Oil on Paper, 30” x 22”, Courtesy of the Artist
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and when did art first enter your life?
I’m from Memphis, TN. Born and raised. I initially come from a music family and background. My aspirations in the music industry has led me to moving around a bit. From Memphis I moved to Virginia Beach, VA, Miami, FL, and now Los Angeles. Art first entered my life about 6yrs ago. I feel like my time in Miami subconsciously planted an artistic seed in my mind. From the Art Fairs to Art Basel down to the architecture and street art, it all played a very integral role in me making the initial decision to rummage the shelves of Jerry’s Artarama in hopes of becoming a great painter.
Lightyears Ahead 2020®, Oil in Canvas, 84” x 60”, Courtesy of the Artist
Has your work always taken on the style it currently embodies?
No, the work I began making was still life objects. From random items, to nostalgic, iconic imagery. I painted things like gummy bears, peppermints, Nike Shoe Boxes, Balloons & Balloon Dogs, Origami objects, etc,. In the beginning my paintings lended a more commercial pop art aesthetic. After about 6 months of painting, Hyperrealism quickly became my favorite genre and the route I wanted to take my work. I pretty much learned everything I know from studying artists on instagram. Instagram kind of became my art school. I never knew so many forms and expressions of art existed before. However, now my works solely represent blackness through portraiture.
Respect The Icon, 2020, Oil and Pigment Stick on Paper, 30” x 22”, Courtesy of the Artist
What is your process like? How do you begin a work?
My process begins with sourcing reference photos. Some images I believe belong on canvas. Once I find a photograph I like, I either sketch it onto the canvas or I might start by just painting it to the canvas with no sketch. That’s when I’m looking to achieve an expressive feeling rather than skilled precision.
Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas (Rookie Card Photo), 2020®, Pigment Stick on Oil Paint on Oil Board, 36” x 24”, Courtesy of the Artist
Walk us through a day in the studio.
I try to make a painting a day, wether big or small. There’s always something to work on. I have multiple works in progress that line my studio walls to be either completed or painted over. Lately I’ve found myself being severely critical in wanting to be more textural and loose rather than realistic and precise.
Either You Gon Stay In or Out! You Lettin Flies In The House!!!, 2020®, Pigment Stick on Paper, 30” x 22”, Courtesy of the Artist
From where do you draw inspiration?
I draw inspiration from Music, Life, Family, Home, Traveling, Movies, Books, anywhere I can. I’m always open and looking for new ways to push the envelope.
I Pity Da Fool, 2020®, Pigment Stick in Linen, 30” x 24”, Courtesy of the Artist
Have you ever delved in other mediums of craft? Why or why not?
Yes, I started my creative journey with Music. When I was younger I played drums for my church and sang in the choir. I took band from 6th grade to the 11th grade. I was inspired by the iconic local Memphis music scene. I began making beats and producing music and over time, that landed me in the studio with Timbaland, Missy Elliiott, Lil Wayne, Demi Lovato, and Kenna to name a small few.
Do Revolutionaries Eat Fried Chicken, 2020®, Acrylic, Pencil, and Oil on Wood, 40” x 43 3/4”, Courtesy of the Artist
What larger questions do you think your work asks?
I’m not quite sure what my work asks yet. I do the work that I’m doing now with hopes to help raise the consciousness of my people. The longneck, afrofuturistic aesthetic is a metaphor for rising up, Black Pride, rising above negativity, rising up to your full potential, rising up spiritually, intellectually. Personally my work is about me finding the confidence to stand in my power, to realize the untapped greatness that lies within.
It Was Rough! But I Made It Through 2020®, Pencil on Paper, 8”x 5”, Courtesy of the Artist
Does your work reference any Art Historical movements?
My work doesn’t represent any Art Historical movements as of yet. Art History is still a bit foreign to me although I’m working within this space but I have no prior background in Art. My family never took me to museums, I’m not from a family that collected art. So in that regard I’m navigating unfamiliar territory and learning on the fly.
Eye of The Storm, 2020®, Oil on Canvas, 60” x 48”, Courtesy of the Artist
What’s next for you?
I’m preparing for my first official print release with a gallery here in Los Angeles (Canvas Malibu). Once Covid is tamed, hopefully a Solo Show abroad or here in the States.
Cool Kid, Cold World, 2020®, Pigment Stick on Paper, 30” x 22”, Courtesy of the Artist
At the end of each interview we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love and would like us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
There’s an artist named Andre Ford – @vdre_ford (Instagram) I LOVE HIS WORK.
Moonlit Melanin, 2020®, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 24”