I saw Leonardo’s art after we friended each other on facebook. I immediately connected to his images and I was reminded of my days studying abroad in Senegal, West Africa. I spent a lot of time at the artist village and watched the Senegalese craftsman dye fabrics and create beautiful works of art. I asked Leonardo if he’d like in share his work with our visitors and I’m happy he did.
I imagine the artist as an Urban Shaman—his aim being to bridge the visible and invisible worlds. As a multidisciplinary artist, I create or document the work in various disciplines: drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, sound, video, costumes and performance. I allow ancestral forces and emotions to influence rhythms, moods, modalities, and aesthetic, in order, to develop a personal statement based on African traditions and continuities found throughout the Afro-Atlantic Diaspora. Simultaneously, I combine contemporary impulses, personal memories, dreams, visions and knowledge of Western art history and practices. My art grows from an inner dialogue to resolve and celebrate issues of history, identity and spirituality. Within African cosmology, the ancestors live in both past and present and are central to my work as artist-shaman.
In August of 2010, I was initiated into a spiritual system known as Mayombe which involves transcendent dimensions of experience achieved through dance, percussion, incantation and divination. I was also given occult knowledge partly in the form of firmas, which are the signs and symbols used to identify and invoke the ancient Kongo spirits of Mayombe. In my body of work called Signatures, I interpret and invent signs and motifs, creating organic and rhythmic compositions which are original yet culturally resonant. Concurrently with my Signatures, I am developing character-driven, multi-disciplinary performance-installations which incorporate Signatures and Lo Makuto, an ongoing series of sculptural objects inspired by amulets and talismans.
Leonardo Benzant (b. 1982 – New York) resides in Queens, New York. Benzant was encouraged by his parents at a young age to explore his creative talents. He is the co-founder of Rainbow & Thunderbolts Multimedia Promotions and for over twenty-three years has been making art before entering the academic world majoring in Fine Art at Pratt Institute. The multidisciplinary artist has also been enriched by numerous mentors and classes including: collage, drawing, painting, vocalization, and writing and theatre arts. Leonardo has been featured in several group shows in New York including Hip-Hop Abstract Visions, Fabric and Rhythm, and UNCF— The Art Of Giving Back. In 2002, he co-wrote and co-starred in the film called Muela, which was featured at the L.A. International Short Film Festival and international festivals.
Leonardo is currently showing a collection of his work in the Middle of Nowhere Art Exhibit by the ImageNation Cinema Foundation:
Middle of Nowhere Art Exhibit
September 21, 2012 @ 2:00 pm – October 21, 2012 @ 8:00 pm
2031 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York,NY 10027
For information contact:
2885 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, New York
Curated by Paula Coleman, the “Middle of Nowhere” Exhibit features artwork by Kenneth Browne , Leonardo Benzant, Jordan (Jordan! TM) Baker-Caldwell, Whitney House and Lehna Huie . These five featured artists address the dilemmas and issues of love and incarceration expressed by the characters, in “Middle of Nowhere.” Browne and Huie use figures and portraits to interpret the emotional fantasy and crisis of the main character.
In Benzant’s mixed media work, he links the complexity of love with the trauma of being incarcerated.
Leonardo Benzant – Mixed Media Paintings – The work exhibited In The Middle Of Nowhere emerged as I inscribed text and kongo-signs based on the imagery and themes of the trailer. It was apparent, that there was a love triangle between two men and one woman, who finds herself at the crossroads between the past and the future. Also, I incorporated the lexicon of my body of work called Signatures, in which, I interpret and invent signs and motifs, creating organic and rhythmic compositions, which are original yet culturally resonant.
Visit http://imagenation.us to learn more about the artists and curator.
For more information on Leonardo Benzant and his art please visit and contact him at: