Marcus Brutus’s paintings explore, in the artist’s words, “ideas of power through portraiture.” The self-taught painter received this first solo show after the artist Jennifer Guidi discovered and shared his work on Instagram, where it caught the attention of Harper’s Books in New York. Brutus’s first solo exhibition there in September 2018 debuted his series of figurative paintings that deftly examined Black American identity and civil right struggles. Brutus, who studied at the St. John’s University in Queens and previously worked in Public Relations, deftly applies his innate ability of storytelling to art. Drawing inspiration from diverse source materials culled from the realms of fashion, film, music, photography, art, and politics, he fluidly interweaves subtle and overt references to the past and present, the real and imagined to creates vignettes that seem to collapse discrete eras and context. “What I’m trying to do is establish a legacy,” Brutus explained, “I want to show these very contemporary issues, but show them as having some long past.” There is a palpable emotional intensity to Brutus’s painting, reinforced by his saturated use of color and dynamically askew lines.