Neon Black, my first show, was a reaction to a moment of police brutality that turned my pain into art. My goal was to show that brightness and color are integral parts of what it means to be black; that dark doesn’t have to mean dangerous. Three years and several shows later, I felt it was time to revisit the Neon Black idea after a year of protest and reflection on racial justice. With this new iteration, Neon Black 2, the basis is the same, but the art has changed. 

First of all, the new art isn’t based on celebrity whatsoever. That was a great start for my career, but in seeking to grow artistically, I thought about the black people I know and how their everyday experience is a story I’d prefer to tell. In doing so, I decided to begin with a focus on their hair. Few things are a signal of the black experience more than our hair is. We love it. We hate it. We try to make it work in white spaces. We tie our identity to it. We have an entire community built around barber and beauty shops. If we lose even a few strands along the way the rest of the community will immediately tell us to cut it all off or “come on home.”

So I gathered 10 incredible people (five men and five women) with glorious black hair and I took their portraits. I turned their bodies into silhouettes leaving just the hair as the only part with meaningful detail. Then I began to paint around these two things with a goal that no matter what, the hair would remain unobstructed. The rest of the silhouette, however, would be both foreground and background, mixing themes of the work to display the differences of the black experience within and without. In doing so, I can highlight how black people are perceived vs their reality. This is Neon Black 2, which takes the concept of Neon Black much further, truly illuminating the black experience via symbols that connect to me personally, the subject, or the culture as a whole. 

Using this new style, I’ve created 10 unique paintings, a set of deconstructed prints, and NFTs of each artwork that will all be a part of Neon Black 2. The show will open in LA on Juneteenth weekend (this is intentional) and will travel to San Francisco and Las Vegas in subsequent weeks. I look forward to sharing this work with you all and explaining all of the details in each painting personally. Hope to see you there!

WHAT?

NEON BLACK 2 ART SHOW FEATURING DJ’S, FOOD TRUCKS, AND FINE ART

WHERE/WHEN?

LOS ANGELES JUNE 18, 6-11PM AND 19TH (JUNETEENTH) 12-6PM.

431 Colyton St

SAN FRANCISCO JUNE 25, 6-11PM AND 26TH 11-4PM.

460 Gough St

LAS VEGAS JULY 2, 6-11PM THROUGH JULY 17, 12-6PM.

801 S Main St

COST?

FREE

QUESTIONS?

EMAIL CONTACT@RODBENSONART.COM