How Vaughn Spann Is Challenging The Way Black People Are Perceived Through Art

Vaughn Spann is a fine artist from New Jersey, who is defining the future of poetic and activist art.
His surrealist approach, often represented by two headed figures on canvas, led him to sell out multiple exhibitions, from New York and London to the Takashi Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo.

His aim is clear – represent his personal perspective in an abstract way and “to put the blackness back in the spectrum”. The way Vaughn represents his ideas, challenges everyone to demystify the contemporary reality of “the false American dream”.

The young artist, uses different techniques and styles to achieve the final look of his paintings. From the  abstractive and diverse way of using colour, to the mixed media techniques playing with texture, his eclectic style is distinct.
One single painting reflects his formalist approach to art, that travels across all medias.

“Staring back at you, rooted and unwavering” (2018)

This figurative painting by Vaughn Spann, is part of an exhibition named Young, Gifted and Black – The Lumpkin-Bocuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art, that highlights an “emerging generation of black artists engaging the work of their predecessors, while also mining new, and in many instances more colourful, vocabularies of symbolism.”
The paintings are reworked through African-American painters, to address the history and meaning of “blackness”, fighting the racial stigma (still very present) in the United States and elsewhere.

Before we understand his reflective representation, it is important for privileged white people to acknowledge the hate and discrimination black people are faced with everyday.
Art is a platform for creatives to find their voice. It can give a purpose, start a conversation or just begin a reflection.

It is disgraceful to neglect the African figures in art history, or outlook them by not giving a worthy representation of who they are. There is a disparity between historical black figures and white figures in the hanged paintings in museums and in our books.
How can a society not value the ideologies of black people and deny the cultural influence whilst appropriating black culture? 

Vaughn Spann is on a journey, shared with many artists, to reform the way these museums and books represent history, by showing black people thriving instead of portraying struggle narratives.

By Alice Derrica