Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis, uses bold shapes and type as a means of self-discovery

Atari © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Atari © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Conceived in a signature palette of monochrome, the Columbus-based artist blends elements from the real and imagined to create artworks inspired by his own journey in life.

Suppose you were to combine the trippy elements of surreal pop art with the enigmatic and scribbly characteristics of Basquiat. In that case, you'll most likely end up with something similar to the work of Praise Godswill who also goes by the pseudonym Pegnosis. In his portfolio, the Atlanta-born and Columbus-based artist builds graphic, lucid and symbolic environments, where hand-drawn type meets punchy formations in a bold display of monochrome; it's a style that's very much his own.

Praise remembers being fully surrounded by creativity when he reflects on his younger years. So much so that he'd spend hours drawing at the table with his brother, "imagining the world the way we wanted it," he shares. "In the worlds we created, we could be, do and say anything – rules were obsolete." And it's this very attitude – "that spirit of wonder" – that he brings into his work today.

It might be surprising, too, to hear that Praise hadn't set out to become an artist. In fact, he didn't go to college until around two years after graduating from school, and once he attended, he was only there for a semester. "I spent most of 2019 and 2020 torn between being the person I thought I needed to be versus becoming the person I dreamt of being," he says. "Indecision ultimately pushed me to decide to practice art full-time under the pseudonym Pegnosis. It's funny because I still don't entirely see what I'm doing as a career – it's more a necessary response to life as I know it."

Strength Comes © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Strength Comes © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Blueish #1 © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Blueish #1 © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

In this sense, Praise views art as an essential activity rather than a hobby. And even if he didn't know he'd end up in this field professionally, it's something that he turns to habitually, having spent a lifetime refining his aesthetic – one involves an intense fusion of "sights, sounds and emotions" from both the waking and dreaming worlds. He adds on the matter: "It is reflective, simplistic and ultimately timeless – the use of black and white acts as a symbol of balance, life and simplicity. Reoccurring ovoid shapes signify the womb and rebirth. The number eight is a symbol of eternity and the spiral a symbol of insight." Every shape, twist and contortion have a hidden meaning behind them, which has all been inspired by various references in nature, graphic novels (like Sin City, The Sandman and Watchmen), sci-fi films, indigenous and archaic culture (such as Petroglyphs and ancient societies), electronic and techno music plus manga and anime.

Flick through his portfolio, and you'll stumble across an abundance of works shaped around these references, from bubbly shapes that replicate the cartoonish typefaces used in comics to the detailed scenes, graphic type and punchy phrases. Ectoplasm and Me features an array of stretched markings, bold and direct, as they sprawl across the white page. Made during a time of challenge, Praise found himself running away from his own responsibilities and "deeper down rabbit holes". In response, he created a study of glyphs – "an introspective look at self-destruction" – that reflected his mindset at the time. Strength Comes connotes a similar feeling of self-discovery, having been composed of a quote he heard in passing. As part of an ongoing series named Notes 2 Self, the type-heavy work is intended to help keep him moving forward when facing anxiety and fear. "Realising the power of the spoken word has brought me to places I would have never thought possible," he explains. "There is so much to be said in truth and spoken simplicity."

Ectoplasm and Me © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Ectoplasm and Me © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

MAMMAL - Made in collaboration with [@nickwforman](https://www.instagram.com/nickwforman/) © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

MAMMAL - Made in collaboration with @nickwforman © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

In Blueish #1, Praise addresses the "melancholy" experienced when "moving against the tide". Presented with an abnormally blue background (a rare move for the artist who usually works solely in monochrome), the piece depicts a human-like character with abstract shapes marked on the head. "The journey of the artist takes sacrifice, and, to move forward, one must first let go of what lies behind," he says. "I love this work solely because it encapsulates a spirit of persistence which can be difficult to summon but is a necessary tool on any worthwhile venture."

The future is looking bright for Praise, who plans to continue pushing his practice into more experimental and original territory. What's more is that Blueish the series will soon be available to the public and will include a collection of artworks, collaborative pieces, wearables and "some other cool surprises," he teases – "I'm very excited for what the future holds."

Concentrate © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Concentrate © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Liberation © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis

Liberation © Praise Godswill, aka Pegnosis