Artist Gavin Benjamin combines his original analog photography and appropriated images with collage, paint, varnish, and other materials like Swarovski crystals to create a mash-up of couture art. He investigates the intersection of culture, media, politics, fashion, and design, addressing questions that (continue to) confront a man of color in America today.
Benjamin is inspired by artwork created during the 15th to 17th centuries. There is something very romantic, dark, mysterious, and brooding about these artworks. The Dutch and Italian master artists used deep luxurious colors, accentuated the intense light and dark shadows, and created a juxtaposition of objects or composition in order to effectively tell a story in their artwork. Benjamin’s artwork reflects everything that he is thinking – it includes everything that he loves and everything that he is challenged by. It’s honest and curious and bright and thoughtful. And, sometimes a little dark. It’s all of the things that made him want to be a professional artist in the first place.
Based on the revolutionary soul of Benjamin’s grandfather and brothers in the village of Guyana, his series Heads of State series bestows this legacy with the legitimacy, power, and honor it deserves. Benjamin’s Heads of State series is Neo-Baroque, Bespoke, Cinematic, Beautiful, Engaging, and Contemporary.
In collaboration with The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Benjamin recently created portraits paying homage to fourteen of Pittsburgh’s legendary sports figures. Featuring; Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Josh Gibson, Arnold Palmer, Swin Cash, John Woodruff, Suzie McConnell Serio, Chuck Cooper, and Dan McCoy, a selection of these original artworks will be exhibited as part of Benjamin’s “Heads of State” exhibition. The reproductions of these portraits are currently presented in "Downtown Renown" a walking trail of windows in Downtown Pittsburgh locations. "Downtown Renown” is intended to appeal to sports fans of all ages and provide teachable moments for families that reflect our collective sense of community, local history, and hometown pride.
Born in Guyana and raised in Brooklyn, Gavin Benjamin received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He currently resides in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Early on, an internship with legendary photographer Arnold Newman fueled his passion for photography and led him to other opportunities working for photographers, including Stephen Meisel and Kelly Klein. He gained valuable experience working as a photo editor for Hachette, Filipacchi, and Esquire Magazines, as well as Kenneth Cole Productions, Sony Style, Neiman Marcus, and TimeLife – all of which seeded his inspiration and creativity for fashion, design, and photo-based art that could evoke a mood.
His artwork has appeared in prominent galleries and art fairs both nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include the Aqua Art Miami Beach, Architectural Digest Design Show, ArtHamptons, and The LA Art Show. Benjamin’s various fine artworks, home accessories, and designs have been featured in in numerous national publications including; City Magazine, Clear Magazine, Interior Design Magazine, ICFF Picks, Spring Market Tabloid, New Glass Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, V Magazine, and The Washington Post. Most recently, Benjamin was the winner of the AD Art Show 2019! MvVO Art in NYC.
View images from Gavin Benjamin's 2020 BoxHeart Exhibit, Heads of State.