FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Paul Brainard
April 1st - May 7th, 2017
Opening reception Saturday, April 1st, 7pm – 10 pm
Arts+Leisure is pleased to announce Paul Brainard's first project at the gallery, Swamp Honkey. Comprising of a dozen large-scale graphite drawings and an oil painting, the exhibition presents the artist's vision of contemporary existence, one underscored by themes of mortality, virtual reality, and consumer culture.
The works on display depict imagery which is surreal and hallucinatory in nature, seemingly existing between commonplace, everyday experiences of reality and alternative, futuristic parallel realms. The title of the show, Swamp Honkey, is meant by the artist to be both “a summation of our current political divide” as well as a reference to his childhood spent in Western Pennsylvania and “how quickly the population changes as you move out from the city to the country.” Emanating an aura of ambiguity and a cryptic sense of disconnection, Brainard's art, and the conception of reality that it depicts, thrives on uncertainty and contradiction. This notion of disconnection, of a rift within a network of binaries, is critical to understanding the artist's work; in his own words, he seeks to explore the “gulf between where one exists in their mind as opposed to the reality of one's existence.” Embodying the idea of hyperreality, defined as the inability to distinguish reality from simulations of reality, he examines the fragmented and constantly shifting state of modern consciousness through both the content and the formal devices of his drawings and paintings.
Brainard is particularly interested in the way advertisements provoke the individual to project, instinctively and automatically, their own life and its exigencies onto the environment of the advertisement, merging the two into a disjointed continuum. This void between truth and advertising-induced fantasy is especially evident in “Swamp Honkey,” one of the drawings included in the exhibition. In the drawing, a self- portrait of the artist appears alongside text and imagery drawn from pornography, as well as a circumscribed letter G (a marking of the NYC subway system), and a cursor; this juxtaposition of an apparently random assortment of images parallels the confused manner in which the individual fuses together their own conception of their life with the worlds contained in the advertisement. The cursor and the allusion to the subway represent the poles of this pastiche, one grounded in concrete reality, the other in amorphous digital and media-driven reality, while the inclusion of a self portrait reflects the manner in which the individual ego is drawn in.
Mortality is another recurring theme within the exhibition, with several of the works containing skulls. Couched within the densely layered forms, these memento mori- like glares of fatality lend an ominous undertone to imagery that otherwise appears removed from time and human decay. The skulls lurk in the shadows, easily missed on first glance in “Rock and Roll Fantasy” and “A Motorist in Cleveland,” although once noticed, their presence cannot be ignored.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Brainard’s approach is his ability to suggest the dichotomies that conceptually underpin his work through his very technique. In the “Motorist” group of drawings, passages rendered in ink give the impression of holes poked through the surface, implying another layer of existence hidden beneath the visible. Abstracted, corpuscular forms evoke cars, trains, and other means of transportation, fusing technology with organic characteristics.
Born in Pittsburgh, Paul Brainard studied at the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Museum of Art Studio School, and earned his MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. Currenty based in Brooklyn, he has exhibited extensively throughout the United States as well as Europe, participating in group shows at Freight+Volume (NYC), Lodge Gallery (NYC), Allegra LaViola Gallery (NYC), Randall Scott Projects (Washington, D.C.), and Phantom Projects Contemporary (Paris), among others. A solo exhibition of his work was displayed in the Dvorak Sec Contemporary (Prague) in 2010.
Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on Saturday, April 1st from 7pm to 10pm. Refreshments will be served. A full color, limited edition artist's book will be available for sale. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212.828.5700.