Artistic Allure: Hebru Brantley

Pioneer Status

Hebru Brantley of Chicago, constant fulfills and redefines the role of an imagineer.  He has mastered the art of visual technology and identifies as a spontaneous Afro-Futuristic artist. His artistic endeavors explore the stereotypes and racist propaganda cloaked within different mediums of American mass media. The intricate works of art delivered by Brantley soar beyond the confines of one medium and represent multiple creative iterations.

Brantley acquired his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in film. Subsequently, his transition from street graffiti to studio art proved impressive. Much of his collections ignite controversy and deal with the artifacts of racial history. Specifically, Brantley dispels the “Southern Mammy” archetype through mixed media depictions. His vividly intelligent deconstruction of social history address the subliminal effects of racially insensitive media.


A key quality of this visionary’s repertoire is his ability to replace derogatory connotations with abstract interpretations. Hence, the impetus for his creative expression derives from Blaxploitation films and the Southside Chicago Afro-Cobra movement. Particularly, the characters that Hebru imagines represent triumphant defiance, youthful expression, raw emotion and supraliminal context.

Art is ironic. Clearly, Brantley’s art remains draped in irony. Through the process of building his repertoire of characters, he successfully dismantles the power of soft entertainment. The abstract environment in which these characters reside remain surrounded by cultural ephemera.

Hebru’s Characterization

The most iconic characters that Brantley created are Flyboy and Flygirl. He was inspired by his reflection on the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II. It is with these characters and sculptural installations that Brantley has efficiently managed to bridge the turbulent past with the current state of cultural relations.

Often times, Hebru repurposes raw materials to create large scale sculptural installations. He utilizes a vast plethora of mediums such as oil, acrylic, watercolor, spray paint, coffee, and tea.

Mostly, his collections stir up complex ideas regarding nostalgia, power, hope and the mental psyche. His body of work encompasses contemporary urban realities with crucial wit, critical precision, agility, and vivid imagery.

Path of Greatest Resistance

Therefore, by retelling ancient stories with contemporary lore, Hebru efficaciously impacts the viewer’s gaze. Thus, this artist characteristically celebrates and critiques the nuances of contemporary urban culture. His developments blur the boundaries between fine art, social commentary and consumer products (society’s general disregard and wastefulness.)

Hebru’s key inspirations derive from the work of Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Notably, science-fiction films, Japanimation, anime, and cartoons also infiltrate this man’s generative processes.

As a source of inspiration himself, Hebru has teamed up with countless Chicago influencers such as Joe Fresh Goods. Their collaboration, “Power of Black Business” will release this summer. On Feb. 24, the duo dropped its wearable movie trailer (t-shirt) at the Fat Tiger Workshop as a teaser for the entire batch of products.

“I have watched the commoditization and debasement of ancient precepts. Magic and incantation have been replaced by the commercialization of the sacred. I use my brushes, aerosol cans, and whatever else I can use to visually relay the many images and messages that are sent to me.” (HB)

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