Leonardo Benzant represented by Claire Oliver Gallery

Leonardo Benzant

My practice is driven by my connection to the trans African-Atlantic diaspora. I recognize both my ties and disjunction from an ancestral past by considering the possibilities of genetic imprints, cultural identification, innate and intuitive beliefs and a conscious seeking of links that reveal continuities that are hidden or largely unsuspected by the mainstream. I imagine myself as an Urban Shaman exploring both my familiar visible world and the hidden dimensions of other realms that lurk beneath the surface of daily life. The sense of personal cosmology in my practice grows from both experiencing and observing the details of everyday life and ritual. Artworks emerge out of the crossroads of life, history, memory, and imagination, a place between that suggest multiple layers of meaning. Inspiration is derived, in part, from the various modes of communication that I have studied and encountered in African-derived rituals

November 11, 2021 to January 23, 2022

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"The paintings are a type of mirror as they are created from tracing parts of the sculptures. On a material level, it references the metamorphosis of the beads, string, and fabric. On a spiritual level, it reflects the adaptive survival strategies and transformations that occur- both personally and collectively,-as we navigate various systems of oppression. In spite of the trauma and the violence, Across Seven Ruins and Redemptions_Somo Kamarioka materializes a journey of hope, healing, and self-determination."

-Leonardo Benzant

December 1, 2020 to January 23, 2021

Claire Oliver Gallery

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Four Now Is A Presentation of The Gallery’s Booth at Untitled Art Fair,
Telegraphing the Excitement of Miami Art Week To Claire Oliver’s Harlem Headquarters
With A Dynamic Program of Virtual Talks

December 4, 2019 to December 8, 2019


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UNTITLED, ART is an international, curated art fair founded in 2012 that focuses on curatorial balance and integrity across all disciplines of contemporary art. Untitled, Art innovates the standard fair model by selecting a curatorial team to identify, and curate a selection of galleries, artist-run exhibition spaces, and non-profit institutions and organizations, in dialogue with an architecturally designed venue. The next edition of Untitled, Art Miami Beach will take place on the beach at Ocean Drive and 12th Street, December 4 — 8, 2019.

September 19, 2019 to September 22, 2019

Navy Pier, Chicago IL

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The two artists featured in Upending the Narrative work slowly and methodically -- almost ritualistically. They create detailed and sumptuous works of art redolent with content and mystery; these works demand to be studied. Equally important to the painstaking “making” is their studio practices exploring the current condition in their own African American communities. Each speaks about the real life versus media portrayal/stereotype of the African American family: grandfather, mother, brother, daughter and the normal if the invisible successful black community.

December 6, 2018 to December 9, 2018

Indian Beach Park, Miami Beach FL

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Claire Oliver Gallery, New York is proud to present
Impatient Obsessions: a three-person curated exhibition
featuring work by Barbara Earl Thomas, Bisa Butler, and Leonardo Benzant.

It makes no difference to the blackbird if he eats from our table or scavenges from our discarded piles. The future of his kind may not be altered. But that is not our fate. We’ve inherited the burden of knowledge and the grief of failed intention. We are not born blind, but we can choose to live that way. -- Barbara Earl Thomas

Public Collections

  • Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN
  • The Harvey B. Gantt Center, Charlotte, NC, USA
  • Art in Embassies, US Department of State, Washington, DC


  • Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, 2017


  • 2016 Galveston Artist Residency, Galveston Texas, 2016

Selected Exhibitions

  • Urban Shaman, Claire Oliver Gallery, 2021
  • UNTITLED, ART, Miami Beach 2020
  • FOUR NOW, Claire Oliver Gallery, Harlem NY, 2020
  • UNTITLED, ART, Miami Beach, FL 2019
  • EXPO CHICAGO, Chicago IL, 2019
  • Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa OK
  • Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VA
  • Coffee, Rhum, Sugar, and Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox,
    Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA, 2019
  • PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, Claire Oliver Gallery, Miami Beach FL, 2018
  • The Future of Craft Part 2, The Burke Prize Exhibition, Museum of Arts and Design, 2018
  • Visionary Aponte: Arts & Freedom, Forum For Scholars And Publics,
    Duke University, 2018
  • Visionary Aponte: Arts & Freedom, King Juan Carlos Center, NYC, 2018
  • Revival: Contemporary Pattern and Decoration, Organized by El Museo,
    at Longwood Art Gallery, Hostos Community College, Bronx, NY, 2018
  • Afrosupernatural, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, Newark,
    New Jersey, 2017
  • Visionary Aponte: Arts & Freedom, 9th Edition of Global/
    Borderless Caribbean, Little Haiti Cultural Center, Miami, FL, 2017
  • Homeostasis, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, 2017
  • 2016-2017 Resident’s Exhibition, Galveston Artist Residency,
    Galveston, TX, 2017
  • A Fast, Moving Sky, The Third Line, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2017
  • High John the Conqueror Ain’t Got Nothing On Me: American Hoodoo and
    Southern Black American-centric Spiritual Ways, Rush Art Gallery, NY, curated by Danny Simmons and Shantrelle P. Lewis, 2017
  • Koi No Yokan III, 101 Exhibit Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 2016
  • Africa’s Out, curated by Wangechi Mutu, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY 2016
  • Cosmology of Resistance and Transformation, G.R. N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI, 2015
  • Power, Protest, and Resistance: The Art of Revolution, Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, curated by Oshun Layne and Daniel Simmons, 2015
  • Badass Art Man: Original Artwork of Danny Simmons (coupled with items from his eclectic collection), African American Museum in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2015
  • New American Sculpture, FiveMyles Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, curated by Dexter Wimberly, 2015
  • Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness, Harvey B. Gantt Center, Charlotte, NC, curated by Rehema Barber, 2015
  • In Between Days, Driscoll Babcock Galleries, New York, NY, curated by Tess Schwab, 2014
  • I Kan Do Dat, Contemporary Abstract Art, Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Danny Simmons and Oshun Layne, 2014
  • Bridging Boundaries: Redefining Diaspora Part I, Postscrypt Gallery Columbia University, New York, NY, 2014
  • Bridging Boundaries Redefining Diaspora Part II, Aloft Hotel Gallery, New York, NY curated by Leanne Stella, 2014
  • Curatorial Salon, Leonardo Benzant, Derek Fordjour, Duhirwe Rushemeza, Tikhonova & Wintner Fine Art, New York, NY, 2014

Artist Talks and Lectures

  • Artist Lecture Series, MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art, 2014
  • Across Generations: African-Americanisms in Contemporary Art. Moderated by Dexter Wimberly, Tikhonova & Wintner Fine Art, New York, NY, 2014
  • THE SACRED AND THE SURREAL: THE ROLE OF SPIRITUALITY IN ABSTRACT ART, Danny Simmons Jr. Panel Discussion, Moderator: Sherman Fleming, 2014
  • Edge Art: Black-Latino (a) Artists, An Inter-Caribbean Dialogue, 3rd. Annual Black Studies FineArt Exhibition of Contemporary Black/Afro-Latino (a) Artists from Around the Western Atlantic World, Cohen Library Archives Gallery, New York, NY, 2014

Select Bibliography

  • Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, LaToya Rubie Frazier, Thelma Golden, Titus Kaphar, Simone Leigh, Kerry James Marshall, Uri McMillan, Tschabalala Self, Jack Shainman, Hank Willis Thomas, William Villalongo, Fired Up! Ready to Go!, Finding Beauty, Demanding Equity: An African American Life in Art, The Collections of Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Rizzoli, 2018
  • Monica Uszerowicz, Reanimating History: Visionary Aponte: Art And Black Freedom, BOMB, 2018
  • Why This Year’s Galveston Artist Residency Exhibition is Different, Glasstire, 2017
  • Jyoti Kalsi, In A Constant State of Flux, Gulf News, 2017
  • Alyssa Klein, “Leonardo Benzant Afrosupernatural Art”, OkayAfrica, 2106
  • Kelvin Ward, “Afrosupernatural”, The Bholdr, 2016
  • Sharon Pendana, In The Trove, “Leonardo Benzant”, 2016
  • Benjamin Sutton, “Surveying Surveys of New American Sculpture”, Hyperallergic, 2015
  • Ryan Wong, “Younger Americans At Driscoll Babcock”, ARTSlant New York, 2015

Download Biography

Conversations On Content

Artist Leonardo Benzant sits down with gallerist Claire Oliver to discuss the content wrapped into each of his works.

MoAD In The Artist’s Studio | Leonardo Benzant

join the Museum of the African Diaspora's own Demetri Broxton as he visits Leonardo Banzent in his studio.


A Conversation With Leonardo Benzant

Cerebral Woman Art Talks Podcast

November 30, 2021


Museum of African Diaspora hosts artists in studios

San Francisco Examiner

July 27, 2020


Miami Art Week 2019: Opulent Artwork

Cool Hunting

December 10, 2019

Museum & Institutional News

Transcendent: Spirituality in Contemporary Art

Burlington City Arts

October 18, 2019 - February 8, 2020


Top 5 Gems at EXPO Chicago 2019

FAD Magazine

October 8, 2019

Museum & Institutional News

Minneapolis Institute of Art acquires “Radiations of The Night Walker” by Leonardo Benzant

Minneapolis Institute of Art

July 1, 2019

Museum & Institutional News

Coffee, Rhum, Sugar & Gold, A Postcolonial Paradox curated by Dexter Wimberly

Museum of the African Diaspora

May 8, 2019 - August 11, 2019


Crafting the Future the MAD Way

TL magazine

February 6, 2019

Museum & Institutional News

The Burke Prize 2018 @ MAD: The Future of Craft Part 2

Museum of Arts and Design

October 3, 2018 - March 7, 2018


Joan Mitchell Foundation Awards $625,000 in grants to artists

Artforum International

November 14, 2017


Leonardo Benzant discusses The Future of Craft

Artist Writings

August 1, 2017


Leonardo Benzant: Urban Shaman

Artist Statment

June 8, 2018

Museum & Institutional News

Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness

he Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

February 7, 2015 - June 26, 2015


Leonardo Benzant


March 10, 2016


In the Studio with Leonardo Benzant

International Sculpture Center

June 1, 2016