A PORTAL INTO THE NON-REALM

Darrel Urban Black

What does it mean to perceive and transport into beyond the perceived realm? The conceptions and mediums through which American visual artist Darrell Black creates is that which embodies a concept of Definism. Bringing alive a work of art through its underlying sense of alternate realism, holding the capacity to exist as a form of escapism; the viewer sees a sense of self yet observes through a manipulated lens and carries the subconscious into a distinct space building a connection and relationship to an environment that is non-existent yet persists in the mind’s eye. Darrell Urban Black, is an American visual artist presently living in Frankfurt, Germany. He works in a variety of formats that include pen and ink drawings acrylic paintings on canvas wood and Mixed media objects. In understanding these intricacies and the mediums through which Darrell fabricates these mental and metaphorical spaces, we conversed with the artist as he explained his journey, his inspirations and that which stimulated these concepts. 

Darrell Urban Black born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in Far Rockaway and Brentwood Long Island New York. In high school, he excelled in science with an affinity for outer space. In June 1969, as America fulfilled J. F. Kennedy’s dream to put the American Stars and Stripes into the dusty surface of the moon Darrell’s fascination with spaceships grew. As a child he made spaceship models eventually placing his artistic visions on paper resulting in some 500 drawings. Phantasmal spaceships that eventually carried Darrell to a unique wonderland of strange forms and colours. Darrell, had many local, national and international group art exhibitions. He has artwork permanently displayed in a number of art Galleries, Museums and other Institutions Worldwide. Darrell’s artwork has also been displayed on billboard in New York’s Times Square for the exhibition titled, ‘SeeMe Takes over Times Square 2014’. Darrell lives in Frankfurt, Germany and continues to draw and paint in pursuit of his artistic dreams. He’s a member of the Veteran Artist Program (EuroVAP) abroad. 

Q | What inspired your journey in the arts? 

A | My earliest memory of wanting to explore the arts started in childhood, growing up my parents had some interest in the visual arts, displaying many abstract paintings and sculptures throughout our home. At the time I never took any real interest in these artworks. My immediate focus was space and science, replicating with great detail spacecraft, futuristic worlds and cities using any and all household items I could find: utensils, clothes pins and household tools, whatever I could find to feed my fantasy. This early creative development I would suspect was my first introduction into art without realizing it using space and science as a platform to build upon. 

Q | Can you tell us more about your style of work and what 'Definism' means? 

A | I work in a variety of formats that include pen and ink drawings, acrylic paintings on canvas wood, Mixed media objects and sometimes using non-toxic hot glue which creates a threedimensional effect on any surface that gives a sense of realism and presence to my artwork, I refer to this optical artistic illusion as Definism. The meaning of my art style in my opinion portrays various differences in human nature from life’s everyday dramas to humankind’s quest to understanding self. My artworks transport viewers from the doldrums of their daily reality to a visual interpretation of another reality. Definism creates the connection to a person, place or environment that seems real to the viewer but has no direct comparison to anything in the ordinary world, only a visual interpretation of the non-reality. 

Q | What mediums do you use in your work? 

A | I use a variety of art mediums from multi-coloured pens and pencils, acrylic paints and non-toxic hot glue. Creating on many different surfaces from notebook, copy paper, wood, glass, metal and canvas surfaces. 

Q | Who are some of your inspirations and muses? 

A | The creatives who inspire and influenced me the most are Mark Rothko and Jean-Michel Basquiat, which in my opinion are the most daring and provocative artists of the 20th century. Basquiat, for example, had a very gritty and poetic style that spoke to instinctive human behaviour and Rothko, used pure colour to invoke emotion and meaning beyond the human senses. The inspiration for creating many of my artworks has been everyday surroundings, personal interactions with family and friends and visual cues from TV, books and magazines that sparked my imagination helping me recreate the idea into the Definism universe. 

Q | What of the American contemporary art scene do you most admire? And how do you find it different now as you reside in Germany? 

A | The US art scene is a very diverse place to introduce new forms of artwork. What I really love about the American art community is its willingness to allow for a wide range of art styles and movements from self-taught or untrained artists. This attitude in my opinion, has given the USA an edge over many other countries in the future development and progression of creative output. On the other hand the art scene in Germany, is still plagued by traditionalistic attitudes and approaches to the discovery of new artistic talent. Many art galleries and art institutions in Germany, use art schooling as the only dominant parameter in determining the artistic ability and creativeness of visual artists.   

In April 2001, Darrell was nominated by the German government as a “candidate of the year’s prize for promising young artists” for his artwork titled “The Invasion” in the exhibition “The Zeppelin in Art, Design, and Advertisement,” shown between May and July 30, 2000, in the Frankfurt International Airport. Another piece referenced in the nomination letter, was titled “The Cosmic Shroud,” executed with a unique glue and acrylic on linen technique. The image was described as “universally appealing and representing a topic which concerns all of us – The Universe.” From ‘The Beatnik’ to ‘The Kleenex Portraits’, ‘Retrofit Fashion’ to ‘The Honourable Veteran’, Darrell Black’s unique use of colour and distinct shaped silhouettes are depictions of his ideologies in attempt to create a portal for the observer’s introspection. 

26th May, 2021 Visual Art | Paintings

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