Xavier Daniels (1980) is an American painter and former firefighter. He studied at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Daniels’ work explores usurping Black male stereotypes and mental health stigmas. Additionally, Daniels employs fashion and the avant-garde as gestures to thwart negative perceptions and redefine notions of fraternity.
Xavier Daniels’ paintings are influenced by his experiences with brotherhood as a firefighter and at Morehouse College. He paints black male figures to create dialogue concerning issues like black male stereotypes, mental health, and Black Lives Matter. According to Daniels, the conversations happening in popular culture about black males leave them invisible in discussions about themselves. The portraits of black men Daniels creates are large in an effort to symbolically assert black male presence into those conversations. Expanding the personages associated with black men as merely athletes, sex symbols, absentee fathers, and thugs, his goal is to give the world a different look at black men.
In creating his art, he is actively thinking about the perception of black men and attempting to be a catalyst for a different view on the black male experience. Using fashion and the avant-garde as inspiration, Daniels allows his models to strike poses that are not typical of black men. Viewing black men in this way makes them vulnerable to the artist’s brushstrokes and the viewer’s eye. The calm, poised, and comfortable expressions on the subjects’ faces allude to the inner life of black men as susceptible to humanity as much as any other people. Daniels urges viewers to question and redefine notions of fraternity, manhood, and wellness.