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The Companion / John Bankston at Walter Maciel Gallery


The Companion

Solo show by John Bankston

Walter Maciel Gallery

6 May – 1 July 2023


Welcome to our new video featuring "The Companion", an exhibition by San Francisco-based artist John Bankston, presented by Walter Maciel Gallery. Join us as we explore the captivating world of Bankston's eighth solo show, featuring narrative paintings that depict the curious and playful interactions of a lead protagonist character within animated landscapes.


In this body of work, Bankston delves into the theme of trust and safety, particularly in relation to the experiences of Black men in a world marked by inequality and the Black Lives Matter movement. The paintings showcase the protagonist, a man, engaging with various animals such as lions, tigers, birds, and a mysterious creature called "the Beast." These animals symbolize both the protective and potentially harmful forces in our lives, inviting viewers to question the delicate balance between protection and captivity.


Unlike Bankston's previous series set in magical forests, "The Companion" focuses on the protagonist's relationships with animals, highlighting the significance of these connections. Through a mix of acrylic and oil-based pigments, the artist creates surfaces reminiscent of crayon drawings found in a child's coloring book. The dreamlike landscapes provide a safe space for exploration, where male bonding, contemplation, and the appreciation of nature intertwine.


Born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Bankston holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and museum shows, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Orange County Museum of Art, among others.


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