Bold colors. Bold lines. Darrell Black expressive artwork reveals a man with something to say who knows how to say it.
Fast. Powerful. Confident.
Those are words I’d use to describe the multi-media visuals he creates, a style he refers to as Definism. Definism is the optical artistic illusion Black creates – a three-dimensional effect on any surface giving a sense of realism and presence to his artwork.
Working in a variety of formats including pen and ink drawings, acrylic paintings on canvas and wood, Black further incorporates found objects and non-toxic hot glue into his pictures.
“(I) portray various differences in human nature from life’s everyday dramas to humankind’s quest to understanding self,” Black says of his artistic intent and “Definism.” “My artworks transport viewers from the doldrums of their daily reality to a visual interpretation of another reality.”
Black’s creative mind was first inspired by “another reality,” that one being outer space.
About Darrell Black
Born on March 25, 1964 in Brooklyn and growing up in Far Rockaway, New York, Black came of age during the space race. It was science, not art, where Black first excelled.
“As a child I made spaceship models, eventually placing my artistic visions on paper resulting in some 500 drawings,” Black recalls. “Phantasmal spaceships eventually carried me to a unique wonderland of strange forms and colors.”
Black never made it to the moon, but life has carried him a long way from Far Rockaway and Queens. The artist now lives in Frankfurt, Germany where he’s been for over 30 years. In 1982, he joined the National Guard. In 1988, he joined the Army to serve another four years.
“After basic training, a sergeant passed out a so-called ‘dream sheet’ of overseas duty destinations a soldier can choose from; I checked off South Korea, Guam and Japan, and to my surprise, the military sent me to Germany,” Black remembers. “I was enraged and wanted to resign immediately! I first contacted my older sister, Lisa, to vent my anger at this unfair decision and inform her of my plans to leave the military, but my sister convinced me to stay. When I arrived in Germany, I quickly realized it’s a great place and have remained in Frankfurt ever since.”
Black’s artwork has found success in Germany and America. He’s been featured in many local, national and international group exhibitions and has artwork permanently displayed in galleries, museums and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic.
In April 2001, he was nominated by the German government as a “candidate of the year’s prize for promising young artists” for “The Invasion,” a painting selected for the exhibition, “The Zeppelin in Art, Design, and Advertisement,” shown between May and July 30, 2000, at the Frankfurt International Airport. Another of his pieces which was shown, “The Cosmic Linen,” executed with a unique glue and acrylic on linen technique, was described by the selection committee as “universally appealing and representing a topic which concerns all of us – the universe.”
Studying Darrell Black’s artwork, his dynamic, enraged, thrashing-in-their-own-skin figures – often incorporating text – recall Jean-Michel Basquiat, a fellow African-American artist who was coming of age in New York at roughly the same time as Black.
Art historical references abound. The Deliberate Spread of Contagion (2021) reminds me of Picasso’s Guernica.
Biting social commentary – police brutality, xenophobia, capitalism – are routinely referenced. Pandemonium within the Government (2021) as one example.
Heavily laid on applications of unmixed, saturated colors in mosaic fashion create a stained-glass quality in many of his paintings.
“I started out creating pen and ink drawings on paper mainly relying on four colors – red, blue, black and green – through experimentation with a larger color palette, my works on paper became more bold and vibrant, then I moved up to painting on canvas and wood, starting off with acrylic paint and later incorporating non-toxic hot glue and found objects,” Black said of his artistic evolution.
The artist is a member of the Veteran Artist Program abroad (EuroVAP) and continues drawing and painting in pursuit of his artistic dreams.
“I think the key to staying inspired is the daily interactions with people, places and the occasional oddity found in a garage sale that leaves you creating in your own mind how to incorporate that unusual object into my next project,” Black said.