Knowledge Bennett - Road to Damascus
About the exhibition
“If you want to know what’s on a man’s mind listen to what comes out of his mouth. If you want to know what’s in a man’s heart watch what he does with the time allotted to him.” — Knowledge Bennett
Road to Damascus is a comprehensive survey of contemporary artist, Knowledge Bennett’s, most significant bodies of work. Select works compiled from seven different series (Obama Cowboy, Cojones, Marilyn Monroe (Good Girl Gone Bad), Share a Coke (Coke Bottle), Mao Trump, Orange is the New Black, and the Black Paintings) made between 2012 - 2019 are presented alongside works of art by Andy Warhol, Barnett Newman and Richard Serra. Bennett’s pastiched delivery often examines popular culture, America’s governmental institutions, as well as historic and contemporary socio-political contradictions. Through a minimalist aesthetic delivery, his large-scale silkscreen paintings are captivating and meticulously crafted. It is only until the viewer unearths the irony of the message transposed through the visual narrative, that the gravitas and true meaning are exposed. By inserting undertold historical storylines into his artistic practice, Bennett catalyzes his art making as an opportunity to raise social consciousness regarding societal infirmities.
Bennett’s deeply held commitment to truth seeking, intellectual enrichment and nontraditional learning guide his creative process. At a critical juncture in his personal and professional journey, his inspiration from modernist painters became amplified as he grappled with processing grief. In his newest series, “Black Paintings,” Bennett contemplates the universality of loss within the human experience. The evolution of Bennett’s work, both visually and conceptually, is an iterative process in which he asserts his personal mantra, “As an artist I reserve the right to grow.” The parable of Road to Damascus underscores this transformative experience—the epiphanous moment in which art became the vehicle by which he articulates his passion, purpose and trajectory as a man.
— Haili Francis, Curator
Knowledge Bennett (born 1976, Asbury Park, New Jersey) is an American contemporary artist. He is self-taught in the tradition of seriography and is best known for making large-scale silkscreen paintings that employ pop culture iconography to recontextualize historical narratives. His subject matter often spans cultural icons, historical occurrences, and political figures.
Bennett's visual narratives are tangential critiques of American idealism, political corruption, and systemic racial stratification. Bennett’s artistic voice fluctuates between vehement protest and deep personal introspection. In his most recent body of work, Bennett’s aesthetic choices evolved in tandem with his personal growth. His pensive nature is most vividly captured in his "Black Paintings" and visually articulated through a minimalistic approach. Grief was the impetus for Bennett’s noticeable departure from his representational silkscreen works.
One of Bennett's paintings titled "Black Excellence," from his "Black Paintings" series, is included in the nationally touring Smithsonian exhibition Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth., which will travel to 10 cities from 2019 - 2022. His work has been featured in major media outlets such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post and Vogue. Bennett has several paintings within the permanent collection of Delta Airlines and is also in private collections in major cities throughout North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. Currently, Bennett resides in Los Angeles, CA.