For Toronto based artist Brian Donnelly, featured here, painting is a risky business. At first beautifully rendered in oil, he then sprays his subjects with turpentine and hand sanitizer until their faces are distorted beyond recognition, to a more limited expression. Donnelly’s work is all about embracing limitations: “I ask a lot of questions about art and how we define it,” he says. “How far away from the original state can we go before we stop calling something art? In the process, I end up drawing a parallel between the fragile nature of artwork and the human condition.”
Oh. My. Beautiful, sad, perfect, destroyed… all of that. This is the work of Toronto based artist Brian Donnelly. He has a solo show coming up later this week in Portland at Stephanie Chefas Projects. The show is titled “Nothing Lasts Forever” – appropriate – and this was a chunk of text that I found on the gallery’s site describing Brian’s process:
“Donnelly is well known for his aggressive approach to portraiture that involves defacing meticulously executed figures through the use of turpentine, hand sanitizer, and other materials. The resulting work is a study in deterioration, fortified by the philosophy that to take away from something can be just as provocative as to add to it.”
Agreed. I think I’d put the word “brave” in there somewhere too. I’m not sure I’d be able to pour turpentine over a perfect painting… although I bet it would be fun!
Toronto artist Brian Donnelly paints photorealist portraits of disembodied heads against optimistic backgrounds of cloudless baby blue skies. Once completed, he applies corrosive materials, like turpentine or hand sanitizer, to his subjects' faces so that their features melt down the canvas in dripping trails of color. He could easily paint them this way from the start, but in the act of destroying something perfect, his work talks to us about loss, letting go, mortality and the inevitability of time. Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd Ave., Suite 202, 310-990-0702. Through June 4.
When we first featured UK artist David Bray on our blog, his work a looked a little different than it does now- immensely detailed mixed media on paper drawings, usually depicting figures in erotic displays. “The work I do is based on that punk ethos- punk with a small ‘p’. Just make something. Use what you’ve got. That’s why I use biro pens stolen from the bookies: paint with tippex, highlighters, stolen paint from DIY stores, found wood…whatever implement is available immediately, right now, no excuses. It’s about utilizing the ordinary and everyday to create something beautiful.”
Artist David Bray's philosophy is "use what you've got…whatever implement is available immediately, right now, no excuses." This would explain the materials list for his painting series Amateur Occult Club: stolen paint, marker, Wite-Out, ballpoint pen. It also accounts for the feeling of in-your-face immediacy you get from the work.