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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Black is a Color

Until Closing Soon
Gavlak / Los Angeles / Art

The Atlanta-based artist Paul Stephen Benjamin doesn’t believe that a single, static identity is possible. Focused on Black identity in America, Benjamin explores Blackness—historically, subjectively, culturally—through painting, photography, collage, and sculpture. Benjamin’s first solo show at this L.A.-based gallery includes two of his largest pieces. One is 2021’s eight-foot-high Black Illuminati, a black-light sculpture shaped like a two-dimensional pyramid. The other is 2016’s God Bless America, a sprawling video installation featuring 40 analog televisions that play videos from Aretha Franklin’s performance at Jimmy Carter’s 1977 inauguration to Lil Wayne’s 2013 music video for his hit “God Bless Amerika.” Mixing contemporary iconography with 20th-century aesthetics in a variety of mediums, Benjamin gives viewers works to inhabit, not just to look at. —J.D.

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