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Arinze Stanley Captures the 21st Century Black Experience with Hyperrealistic ‘Paranormal Portraits’

Arinze Stanley Captures the 21st Century Black Experience with Hyperrealistic ‘Paranormal Portraits’

Nigerian artist Arinze Stanley spends hours refining the details in his hyperrealistic charcoal portraits of everyday people. In a statement about his new body of work, Paranormal Portraits, opening virtually October 3 at Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery, Stanley says he uses his art as a tool for social and political activism. Drawing inspiration from his personal experiences growing up in Africa, the self-taught artist’s drawings comment on issues affecting Nigeria, attempting to amplify the voices of the unheard. Stanley notes:

“In my opinion, artists are custodians of time and reality, hence why I try to inform the future about the reality of today and through these surreal portraits seen in my new body of work, Paranormal Portraits, navigate my viewers into what is almost a psychedelic and uncertain experience of being black in the 21st century.”

L-R: “The Machine Man #6,” “Mindless #3,” “People and Paper #1,” and “Paranormal Portrait #3"
L-R: “The Machine Man #6,” “Mindless #3,” “People and Paper #1,” and “Paranormal Portrait #3"

Working with charcoal and graphite pencil on large sheets of paper, Stanley captures the tiniest human features in stunning detail. Intimately rendered beads of sweat, bandages, stray hairs, and even sutures give his larger-than-life portraits a personal, photographic quality. His drawings are so realistic, they’re often mistaken for photographs. “My art is born out of the zeal for perfection” says Stanley, “both in skill, expression and devotion to create positive changes in the world.”

Paranormal Portraits runs October 3 through November 7 at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. For more information, please visit the gallery or watch this video (or this one) to see Stanely’s drawing process in action.

Corey Helford Gallery
Corey Helford Gallery

Morgan  Laurens 

Morgan Laurens is an arts writer who lives in the Midwest and enjoys saying "excuse me" when no actual pardon is needed. She is the founder of So Long See You Tomorrow, an organization that helps artists and creative entrepreneurs write about their work, craft a story, and get back in the studio. Learn more at: https://solongseeyoutomorrow.com

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