Hebru Brantley is an American artist known for his distinctive, narrative-driven work that revolves around his conceptualized characters. Drawing from art historical references such as Robert Colescott, Andy Warhol, Kerry James Marshall and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the work of Brantley reassesses contemporary culture and mythology through a unique lens. He utilizes his characters in a narrative output to address complex ideas around nostalgia, fear, safety, power, and hope. The color palettes, motifs and characters themselves juxtapose this intricacy, creating an air of innocence and accessibility around his layered and multifaceted ideas.
Brantley’s work is often seen challenging the traditional view of the hero or protagonist. The contexts and expressions of his youthful cast of characters – which are sometimes in autobiographical form – summon the audience to reimagine childhood and the American cultural experience in Brantley’s coined context of ‘dark fiction’. His work is frequently depicted exploring this macrocosm, where dark represents an identity, continent, and mindset. In his Negro Mythos series, Brantley reimagines the super heroes of American pop culture as people of color – as a quest to readdress modern mythology through his lens. Flyboy, his most known character, was also born from this concept.