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On Trapped In What I Made Believe: Q & A with Kasia Kay

Hebru Brantley. Double Dare, 2012. Kasia Kay Art Projects, Chicago, IL (Photo Credit: Image Courtesy of Danielle Jackson)

Not that long ago, the artist Hebru Brantley said, “When it’s all said and done and I’m out of here. I want people to remember me as a superhero.  You know very mythological like I wore tights all day, but I was just super swole. I glowed. I could fly. I could do amazing things. I want to be deified. I want to have a big superman style headset. I’m on the gravesite like BOOM, beaming out with a brush in my hand and a can and maybe a joint or a beer or something.”

 Perhaps, it’s the Urban Nerd in me, but out of all of the statements Hebru Brantley has made over the years, this has always been the one that has resonated with me. Much like this assertion, Hebru’s work encompasses the energy of urban culture and captures the dreams of its inhabitants. Memories of Saturday morning cartoons, bad ass comic book heroes, Hip-Hop, the South Side of Chicago, imaginative wastelands, and lavish dreams transport me back to my youth. His latest venture, “Trapped in What I Made Believe,” serves as an extension of these fun yet insightful narratives. Although, smaller in scale than his October exhibition, “Trapped in What I Made Believe,” is just as unique and contemplative.

A prominent work in the show is entitled, “Double Dare.” In this piece Brantley translates familiar imagery from his sculpture practice into his painting practice. It pays homage to the marvel comic superhero Daredevil.  Through my conversations with people, I noticed that Hebru’s work touches people in different ways. Last week, I caught up with gallery director Kasia Kay to ask her a few questions about the exhibition.

Danielle Jackson [DJ]: How would you explain “Trapped In What I Made Believe?” How do you think people can relate to it?

Kasia Kay [KK]: “Trapped in What I Made Believe” is definitely an artistic progression with the types of media used.  It is also an extension of the artist’s stories. Fans are able to relate to the work because of this extension in iconography and those viewing Hebru Brantley’s art for the first time will be attracted to it because of the way that it calls attention to the ‘make believe’ of youth.

DJ: What is your favorite piece? Why?

KK: “Double Dare.” It embodies Brantley’s evolution as an artist. The painting is well rendered and it really shows his painting talent. 

DJ: How is the experience of “Trapped in What I Made Believe?” different from “Yesterday’s Losers?”

KK: This exhibition is on a smaller scale.  However, we still tried to show various media from Brantley including sculptures and paintings on wood.

DJ: Why was it important for Hebru Brantley to exhibit work at Kasia Kay Gallery? How did that opportunity come about?

KK: I saw Brantley’s work first about two years ago and kept on observing his evolution as an artist. I decided to show his work exactly a year ago during Art Chicago 2011 and right away got very positive feedback from local collectors and curators. It’s always good for galleries to see such excitement. As an important up and coming local artist it made sense to give him a solo show now. There is a lot of positive response to this smaller scale gallery show.

DJ: As a gallery director, what strikes you about an artist and/or artwork? What impresses you?

KK: Either I fall in love with an artwork or can’t take it out of my mind – that’s the sign for me to “put my hands on it.” It’s like having a dialog with the work, which happens either right away or keeps on evolving with time.

DJ: In the future, what can we see from Kasia Kay Gallery?

KK: The gallery will be participating in Art Hamptons International Fine Art Fair in July. Also, Fall 2012 brings two very exciting solo exhibitions – Ben Young from London (an English/American artist) in October, and Erika Harrsch (a Mexican artist based in NYC) in November/December. In addition, we will be featuring Hebru Brantley at the 8th Annual Guerrilla Art Truck Show (Fulton Market and Aberdeen streets) on June 12th. This will be the gallery’s new Art Project that involves art and design, and in addition to Brantley’s artwork, we will be featuring new home-design pieces by TSR Design.

Check out images from the exhibition’s opening on April 16th

Trapped in What I Made Believe

On view through May 12th

Kasia Kay Art Projects

215 N. Aberdeen, Chicago, IL




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