Art Inspo: Meet Brothers Delfin and Kohshin Finleyby Jen Fisch | 6 months ago
I love art. I am a Creative Director for a living and one of the coolest things I get to do is to periodically help curate art shows at my office. The Finley brothers are two of those artists. I was lucky enough to meet brothers Kohshin and Delfin Finley through their mother who I share a mutual friend with. The moment I saw their work, I knew I had to meet them and I was lucky enough to collaborate with them on an art show very soon after. Both brothers are extraordinarily talented painters and all of their work is incredible. They dive into social issues, specifically tied to their experiences as young, multiracial Black and Mexican men.
The Finley brothers grew up in a creative family in South Central Los Angeles and always felt a great connection to the art that sprouted around them. From a young age, Delfin saw beauty in the vibrant colors and lines of the graffiti embellishing the alleys. He found even more inspiration in the people that found their voice through a spray can. He was born with a need to journal his experiences through drawing and later through oil painting. He speaks through his images, which flow more easily than words. His portraits convey the emotion and angst of love lost, the pain of depression, racism and ultimately the joy and beauty of a moment forever captured on canvas.
Delfin’s work is so realistic it is at times difficult to tell if you are looking at a painting or photograph. Like his brother Kohshin, Delfin he often paints himself, family members and other people in his life. Delfin describes his a piece he painted of his father in this way in an interview with Vice:
“Each person has his or her own personal issues, yet we have something that will forever bind us together. We are linked by the instances in which we felt not in control of our present, much less our future. We are judged by the color of our skin and are the victims of brutality and hatred. It limits our spirit and too often ends our lives prematurely. I painted each person with that wearing heavily on my mind.
The first piece I painted captures the essence of what drove me to create this collection. My father represents all men of color, who through their mere existence cause such a hateful, violent reaction against them. He holds a shovel in his hand, in what appears to be a gesture of inevitability and hopelessness. The [work’s] title, It’s Only a Matter of Time, speaks to the danger that we, as black men, face on a daily basis. Do I pick up a shovel and help society prepare my grave? Or do I raise it in defiance?”
Kohshin received his BFA from Otis College of Art and Design. He utilizes traditional oil painting techniques and contemporary text-based imagery to communicate a character’s emotional travels; where they were; where they are; and where they will be. He explains his work by saying,
“Los Angeles’ graffiti covered walls and sign-lettered awnings are as artistically inspiring to me as the classic works of the Renaissance. Just as a songwriter tells stories through rhythm and melody, I tell my stories with brushes and paint. The subjects of my paintings are captured in a vulnerable state of being, at their most honest and revealing. Poems and short tales are written in diaristic scrawls throughout the paintings as if the characters wrote them. I utilize traditional oil painting techniques and contemporary text-based imagery to communicate a character’s emotional travels; where they were; where they are; and where they will be. I create paintings in this way to showcase my own vulnerabilities, and to give the viewer permission to discover something about themselves when viewing my paintings. I utilize traditional oil painting techniques and contemporary text-based imagery to communicate a character’s emotional travels; where they were; where they are; and where they will be.”
Finley’s work depicts strong people of color forced to carry the burden of past and present American discrimination and racial prejudice. The subjects of his paintings use these tribulations as armor for their journey through everyday life. These visual moments facilitate conversations on the struggles people of color have to endure to survive and to thrive.
Being born and raised in the contentious racial and social climate of South Central Los Angeles, Finley now taps into his own Black-Mexican heritage and experiences to create each painting. His friends and family are the subjects of these paintings, captured while they have visceral conversations about navigating the world as people of color.
In Kohshin’s piece Camouflage For The Modern Man you see a black man with white paint on his skin, representing a need to camouflage his blackness in order to stay safe in today’s world. Similarly in Black Like Me you see Kohshin actually as a self-portrait also covered in white paint for protection.
Art is a crucial weapon for social change and I believe that the Finley brothers are two of the most talented young artists in the world and it is incredible that they come from the same family. I look forward to more people discovering their talents and being impacted by their powerful messages.