Chicago visual artist captures vitality of the community in his work

Chicago visual artist captures vitality of the community in his work
Photo Credit: Tony Binns for SteedMedia Group

While it was a particularly cool March evening outside the opening night of the 16th annual art exhibition of the Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, it was definitely hot inside Gallery DST. One of the many talented artists featured, Paul Branton’s work lets music and paint describes the world that surrounds us. Using bright and saturated colors, he reveals to us what we see in the faces of people we pass each day.

Talk about your work. What inspires it? 
My art is very serious and comes from a personal place. I would like to say that it’s a true reflection of life. I look at our journey in this country, from the harsh conditions to the most brilliant accomplishments, and I paint everything along that spectrum.

How did you get started?
My very first interest in art was looking at my parents’ record collection; more specifically, the Ernie Barnes’ painting on the Marvin Gaye album I Want You. See, that image as a child hooked me into the world of art and all the fascination of creating a new world of a blank page.

What medium(s) do you use?
I’m primarily a painter who started with oils. These days my canvas has a bit of everything on it including house paint. I love to work quickly, so acrylic paint is my go-to weapon of choice — and I always leave a little room to pull out my pens and draw on my paintings.

How did growing up on the South Side of Chicago shape and mold you as an artist?
Chicago’s South Side fed all of my senses. I was enamored with the city and fascinated with the people. I found beauty in vacant lots and dilapidated buildings — and the colorful language filled me completely.  All of this is regurgitated in my art.

What would you like audiences to take away after viewing your work?
I think any great piece of art not only captures your imagination, but causes you to ask questions. I would hope that my audience forms dialogues caused by my art.

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