Chino Amobi, currently offering a batch of candy-colored paintings at Williamsburg’s Like the Spice Gallery, is one of those info-era artists whose works suggest a kind of Web-surfing aesthetic. Not just his art, though—his creative practice, too.
Amobi clicks back and forth between being a painter and making music in the persona of “Diamond Black Hearted Boy,” known for his glitchy wall-of-sound style, full of shouting and muddied samples. A fan once called it “a darker, scarier brand of hip-hop.” His sonic explorations make an interesting parallel to his painting: Florid Day-Glo colors evoke his sound’s soupy, drugged-up quality; collaged-in elements—anime princesses, cartoon sharks, stray pixilated squares—suggest a digital taste for sampling.
But Amobi’s paintings aren’t just great cover art for his music, either. Born in 1984 of Nigerian parents in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he centers each image around a portrait of himself or someone from his family—African-American fashion plates striking wild poses, clad in regalia formed of riotous colors and cartoons. The family dimension of his work suggests that, in part, Amobi isn’t just riding the tide, but also looking to carve out space for a self, to hold onto a personal world in an overwhelming digital universe.