Chris Brown Is a Bad (Visual) Artist

Chris Brown unveiled three new works of graffiti art via Twitter earlier today. None of them are very good. But he does show a little promise.

"Shadow Walker" is the simplest—and the worst—of the three. The limited color palette makes the seams in the collage work more transparent. For example, the "shadow walker" is the DC superhero Deadman from the 1967 Neal Adams cover of Strange Adventures #207, and the strip of faces to the side is oddly shaped because it is the part of that cover's background between Deadman's right arm and body. The multitude of Cs in the red-and-black cloud in the top left seem to have come from the same homemade stencil and its negative, overeagerly applied.

"Love vs. Falling in Love" also draws on the imagery of late-1960s DC comics; the text "Falling in love" is actually from the cover of 1968's Falling in Love #99 (as are the comic art faces within the larger green face). Again a stencil (this time a K shape) is used with enthusiasm if not certainty of intent. Hastily sketched Super-Saiyan hair and sunglasses don't exactly clarify things. The unmodified (except by blue tint) image of a topless woman with her back turned stands out simply from not being tweaked at all.

Of the three, "Dream Date" shows the most potential for Brown as a visual artist. The spray-paint yellow explanatory text is actually unnecessary, as this piece communicates with visual grammar that the comic-art man is "the thought" of the woman's "dream date." The woman, incidentally, appears to be the same woman in "Love vs. Falling in Love," and the man is also from Ric Estrada's Falling in Love #99 cover. But the connection merely suggests that the other work was constructed from the scraps of this one.

"Dream Date" is largely purple and orange hues, but it's not dominated by the colors as the other two are by their red and yellow, respectively. A graffiti cartoon of Brown's own devising is far more interesting, and with better craft, than any of the collage elements. Even his initials demonstrate strong line work. The canvas here is over-packed, which while it does recall the unedited overeagerness of Mr. Brainwash, at the very least remains somewhat vibrant and hides the stitches of its own creation.

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