AFROPUNK.| A Retrospective by Paul DEO. |x| Deborah Oster Pannell.

In Audiorotic, Crumbs, The Menuby Quiet LunchLeave a Comment

Artist Paul DEO brought his kaleidoscopic, afrofuturist vision to AFROPUNK 2015 in the form of time tripping self-portraits, iconic cultural mashups and his own cosmic brand of visual storytelling.

Cultural icons blend with personal journey in DEO’s complex, utopian, image universe, where he pays homage to his greatest musical and cultural inspirations – James Brown, Nina Simone, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X and Michael Jackson. His work simultaneously plays with popular icons and embodies a deeply spiritual and ecstatic vision of a universe bound together by love, pleasure and a deep expression of self. Visitors to his booth at last week’s AFROPUNK festival found themselves immersed in a world of Bob Marley, Alan Iverson, Malcolm X, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Marley, Dr. Martin Luther & Coretta Scott King and the funkiest take on a Power Puff Girl you could ever want to see…

“My art is me trusting my subconscious mind opening up to my true God self.”

– DEO


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AFROPUNK is the soulful modern incarnation of the spirit of Woodstock, where Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin ruled as our psychic explorers, where you could pretend that color didn’t matter, except you had access to all of them, and it was all so beautiful… And now, when the bounds of color seem to press on us harder than ever in an explosive break through the cloak of silence around police brutality and other violent forms of institutionalized racism, AFROPUNK is an oasis, where you can be swept up by the swirl of fashion, music and art that is inhabited by African royal blood, and the flow of African-ness highlights the open music vibe and laid back energy.

When something feels good inside, you want to share it, right? That energy builds up and you find a way to express it. Maybe you sing, maybe you dance, maybe you paint or draw or play music or dress yourself up like the finest specimen of humanity you can be – you are beautiful, you are brave, you are living free. People stopped by the booth for two days, to take in the swirling, shimmering beauty of DEO’s work. They were drawn in by the royal, Mardi Gras vibe of the painting, “FELA,” which formed a shrine at the center of his booth.


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Fela Kuti, who embodied the rich spirit of African music and liberation theology in action – he lived his cultural and political power in every way he could, until he could live no more. DEO has channeled this spirit through his painting, creating a visual tribute to the great Nigerian artist that had a visceral impact on the people who visited during AFROPUNK. In its glow, they took turns showing their own favorite DEO pieces that they bought or coveted.

FELA, whose afrobeat sound was the alternative that defined a whole generation going forward, whose rebel spirit was more punk than any today, a musical, cultural force that truly represents the shared vision of DEO and AFROPUNK.


Text © Deborah Oster Pannell 2015 All rights reserved.
Images and Art © Paul Deo 2015 All rights reserved.

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