Graffiti artist turned painter Hebru Brantley is a rising talent for his widely admired urban pop art, inspired by Saturday morning cartoons and the mythological heroes of comic books. The Chicago artist’s decision to exchange spray can for paint brush has generated a high-profile following and dozens of solos shows in only a few years. (Above: No Public Battles, Just Private Wars / Galerie Frank Pagès, Geneva).
Here are 5 good reasons there’s a buzz about Hebru Brantley:
1. Jay-Z : The multi-millionaire hip-hop celebrity has been a collector since 2012, when the then underground artist personally delivered a painting to Jay-Z’s hotel room in Miami. Now, Brantley skateboards with Lil Wayne, smokes cigars with Carmelo Anthony, and hangs with Lenny Kravitz.
2. George Lucas: The Star Wars creator just bought two paintings and three sculptures from Brantley for the new, $300-million Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, slated to open in 2018.
3. A new Basquiat: Brantley has been compared to (and says he is inspired by) the late Jean-Michel Basquiat , whose urban inspired art put him in the celebrity stratosphere. Forbes estimates eventual prices for Basquiat works as high as $100 million. Art world gurus say Brantley and Basquiat are one of a kind, prompting collectors to scramble for the 34-year-old Chicago artist’s current work.
4. Crain’s: This business bible put Brantley on one of their Top 40 under 40 lists , saying the prices his art commands (upwards of $150,000 for some) indicate his ultimate potential.
5. He doesn’t just paint: He’s an emerging business brand, with Adidas, Nike, Redbull, Skyy Vodka and the Swiss watch company Hublot already in his stable.
On top of all that, he’s a 6-foot-8-inch good guy, with a strong backstory told well in his published profiles. (Read this one in Chicago Magazine)
Brantley has exhibited in London, Switzerland, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York including Art Basel Switzerland, Art Basel Miami, Scope NYC and Frieze London. Brantley earned a B.A. in film from Clark Atlanta University, and has a background in design and media illustration. Here’s a representative sampling of his art.
Galerie Frank Pagès installation: left Muse, right Eros, far left graffiti painting
The Watch, public art installation, Chicago
–Marvel Secret Woman, 2014
–Astroy Wifey, 2014
Hebru Brantley’s website, here.