Hebru Brantley's "Darker Than The Color Of My True Love’s Hair" Limited Ed Print
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In "Darker Than The Color Of My True Love’s Hair", Hebru uses a collage-like technique to embellish and adorn the hair wrap, which has become a cultural fixture in Black female beauty. Brantley paints imagery into the headscarf in a fragmented and disjointed way, giving reference to the psyche. In the scarf, he references Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", a 1970's comic rendering of the female superhero Storm, as well as quilting, a folk art interwoven into the history of Black bodies in the United States. Brantley also calls into question the ideas of blackness and femininity. The figure, regally poised, with pearls dripping from her neck, recedes into the saturated blue and the work becomes about her hair and head. The head wrap acts as a banner of physiological insight, a physical crown, and an embellishment of beauty. Barely holding her hair, the head wrap, while an image of empowerment and a reference to black beauty, cannot even contain the black female in all her fullness.
This is the fifth painting in Brantley’s series titled “Tignon Law”. The central focus of each piece is the profile of a woman adorned with a headscarf. Tignon Law was passed in 1786 by Louisiana Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró, and required Creole women to cover their hair with a tignon in order to distinguish them from white women and emphasize their lowly social status. As a rebellion to this law, Creole women often wore elaborately designed, colorful tignons.