In­tu­itive Spa­ces

American Art Collector - - Contents - JOHN BROSIO

In John Brosio’s new works, his sub­jects— el­derly peo­ple in a moon­scape, skele­tons and wolves in a na­ture scene, a cook in a taco stand—are dwarfed by the im­mense scenery around them. They are small and in­signif­i­cant, and yet they are hold­ing their ground as cit­i­zens of these vast lands.

“There is noth­ing any­one can achieve with­out hav­ing to re­mem­ber how small we are. What­ever is go­ing on ‘out there’ is huge. And not just phys­i­cally but psy­cho­log­i­cally and time-wise—all of it,” Brosio says from his Cal­i­for­nia stu­dio. “There was a Dutch painter named Ja­cob van Ruis­dael whose im­ages grabbed me in col­lege for their use of scale and per­spec­tive, but I do not see any dif­fer­ence be­tween that and the open­ing of the orig­i­nal Star Wars film where a mile-long space­ship comes in from over­head. In­ci­den­tally, one of my teach­ers was an artist named Richard Bunkall whose work very much re­in­forced these dy­nam­ics.”

Brosio, whose Los An­ge­les stu­dio is close enough to Dodger Sta­dium to hear the crowds dur­ing games, will be pre­sent­ing this new work be­gin­ning Septem­ber 15 at Ar­ca­dia Con­tem­po­rary at its new lo­ca­tion in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia.

“Each of the paint­ings ex­ists within the con­fines of what might be a short story. And there is a lot of tran­si­tion in this body of work. Much more of the work is made up, with far less ref­er­ence, and that is def­i­nitely a di­rec­tion into which I am mov­ing,” the painter says. “You might de­tect nods to Albert Pinkham Ryder here and there. Some of these new works I can def­i­nitely point to and say, ‘that is my head. That is where I live.’ If you hap­pen to re­visit the im­agery there is a piece [To­mor­row], for which the con­tent is laid out on a game board. That is one such work. And many of the tor­nado paint­ings, which used to be quite large, are now rather small next to larger ver­sions of these new ven­tures.”

In To­mor­row, re­al­is­ti­cally ren­dered homes and build­ings are placed within a sur­real board game land­scape, where trees and bushes are two-di­men­sional cutouts and side­walks are rainbow-col­ored game paths. In the sky are crude child­like draw­ings of crea­tures, as if to mimic a child’s doo­dling on a chalk­board. “There is a fak­e­ness in it, a flat­ness, a huge col­or­ful threat, def­i­nitely hard­ship, iso­la­tion, color, a black sky and an in­di­ca­tion of game play­ing. I think of it as the ex­treme near fu­ture maybe. Maybe it has to do with out­grow­ing op­ti­mism. Not sure,” Brosio says, be­fore ad­mit­ting his own nar­ra­tive is less im­por­tant than the viewer’s. “That is one of those pieces where I would en­joy hear­ing what some­one else thinks. But it is def­i­nitely very close to how I see the world, the gamut of things.”

Other works in­clude Land­ing Party, fea­tur­ing a retro rocket and a num­ber of se­nior cit­i­zens who seem to be walk­ing around it on the moon, and Taco Stand in Hell, in which the light from a small eatery does lit­tle

to il­lu­mi­nate through a black­ish night­mare hellscape. “Liv­ing in a very busy city with too much stim­uli can turn a small thing like a taco stand into an oa­sis. They are usu­ally quite small and very unas­sum­ing,” he says. “I just felt like, ‘What if there was one in Hell—just by some magic—to give some­one a tiny break.’ There are a few paint­ings I have done with taco stands and maybe more to come.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion con­tin­ues through Septem­ber 30.

1Taco Stand in Hell, oil on can­vas, 24 x 18"2To­mor­row, oil on can­vas, 36 x 48"3Home, oil on can­vas, 30 x 36"4Land­ing Party, oil on can­vas, 21 x 16"

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