Black Kirby returns
Robinson and Jennings team up for a show at Buffalo Arts Studio
Night Boy tells the story of a fifteen-year-old victim of police brutality.
Stacey Robinson and Black Kirby
July 25–September 6
Buffalo Arts Studio, 2495 Main Street
For some years, the collaborative entity Black Kirby, made up of John Jennings and Stacey Robinson, has been known for its disruption of black stereotypes through work loosely based on comics culture, but augmented by other contemporary painterly styles. The duo took up the topics of Afrofuturism, social justice, representation, and magical realism in a groundbreaking exhibition at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in 2012.
Welcome back, Jennings, Robinson, and Black Kirby. This time, the show is at Buffalo Arts Studio, and separate bodies of work are presented by Robinson and Black Kirby.
Robinson’s large-scale digital images explore representational justice and are informed by the work of W. E. B. Du Bois, who introduced the idea that having more than one social identity leads to a condition the writer called “double consciousness,” which makes it difficult to develop a sense of self. The images that swirl around the figures in a work like Afrovision express both the conflicts that come with being black in America and the more hopeful dreams of a future where a black utopia—free from colonial influence—is possible.
For this show, Black Kirby presents a new graphic novel entitled Night Boy, which tells the story of a fifteen-year-old victim of police brutality who then takes part in a supernatural power struggle.
The combination of fantasy, superhero tropes, psychedelic elements, and potent symbolism (rainbows, pyramids, fists, chains) found in Robinson’s work grabs the viewer, sometimes overwhelmingly. Combine this with Jennings’s formidable graphic technique and the result is a powerful show that will light up the walls of Buffalo Arts Studio.