Artist Devendra Banhart picks up where native cave painters left off 20,000 years ago. There is a shamanistic catharsis in the pure forms, lines, and colors against stark simple backgrounds that give Banhart's art an almost talismanic quality. I should also say that there is a common misconception that cave art is primitive - the Lascaux cave drawings, for instance, (which were discovered in 1940 by four teenagers and their dog in southwestern France), upon closer observation, are actually incredibly complex. For example, they have found evidence of mathematical star charts, dimensional perspective not seen in art for centuries and intricate spiritual iconography. Inside Banhart's art one can find the same cosmic complexity. Banhart's art is a return to the id - as if there was ever a magic tab to dissolve on your tongue to return you there. Banhart has been more widely recognized in other mediums, but his art has touched hallowed museum walls. In 2004 Banhart exhibited exclusively next to the art of Paul Klee, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Banhart has also had many solo shows in galleries around the world. The newest revelation is that Banhart has bought some tattoo supplies and has started tattooing his friends and family. Banhart's tattoos are brilliant little mementos that don't stray too far from the style of his artwork. They hover moderately within the confines of traditional tattooing - albeit, with a lot less shading. His tattoos are currently an altruistic enterprise, and he has graciously offered to give me one the next time I stop through his neck of the woods. Coming up in March Banhart will be having a show in Milano along with Adam Tullie of Cavern Collection and bonkers conceptual artist Keegan McHargue. More info about the show here.
Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre