“The Chief”



He has won prizes for his paintings since the age of 7! Now all grown up, his paintings have moved away from the simple ledger-style of his early youth, to demonstrate a mature, and more complex, proficiency.

This dramatic mixed -media painting reflects the Kiowa culture of his mother, but the exceptional skill it demonstrates probably comes from his father, the famous painter, Bennie Nelson, Yellowman.

There is a fabulous mix of materials, styles and painting techniques here; the result is almost baroque, and old world.

The face of the chief stands out from the dynamic ornamentation around him, with tranquil stoicism.

He is surrounded by images of tepees and riders, swirling around, in various depths and planes; some in front, some receding in the background.

The effect is almost like a visualization of his memories and thoughts; reliving the old days of glory.

There are small portraits of chiefs maybe the same chief, repeated above and to his right. Differently colored, these are photographs, pasted on the canvas.

To our right, and below the central image, four rows of gold on black patterns are also pasted.

Above, this, the artist has  painted a recessed form, like a door to another dimension.

To finish the piece, and contain all the energy and movement within the canvas, Ben has sprayed a gilded frame, richly ornamental, in the style of old-fashioned gilt frames.

Vivid and neutral colors, and many different elements, create an animated, almost chaotic, movement.

All are contained and anchored by the sublime calm of the central portrait, and the repeated strong rectangular forms behind, and in front.

Visually and stylistically complex, this mixed-media painting is a culmination of the artist’s journey, so far.

It is a splendid and fascinating commentary on Kiowa and Native history, within a magnificently executed visual expression.

No longer a little prodigy, Benjamin Nelson has matured into a major artist, with this latest work.




Additional information


MIxed Media | Acrylic Paint | Sprayed Paint | Photography | Collage | On Canvas


16" W X 20" H