Friday, June 7, 2013

In Process With Brian Edmonds

Next in my In Process series, we take a look at two paintings by Brian Edmonds from Huntsville, Alabama.
Edmonds allows us a step by step look at two recent works: A Darker Dark and The Brute.
Both examples speak to the importance of process and materials in Edmonds' painting as he rethinks and reapplies form and color again and again.
This process is made more difficult as Edmonds composes within the untethered format of the tondo, forgoing the comfort and security that a more typical rectangle or square would provide.

A Darker Dark, acrylic and pastel on canvas, tondo 12 in. (diameter)

On the choice of the round format, Edmonds has this to say:

Recently I completed a series of 3 round canvases.  These works were both directly and indirectly influenced by 3 artists, Gerhard Richter, Joan Mitchell, and Vincent Hawkins.
A few years ago I visited the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.  Upon entering the museum I was greeted with a grouping of rhombus shaped Richter paintings.  This was not my first encounter with a “shaped” canvas but it was the first to make me ponder the possibilities of such a work.  A painting that is more than the just the image on the canvas.
The same could be said for a Joan Mitchell Tondo painting included in a traveling Smithsonian show.  The Tondo paintings are circular with beautifully placed color oozing from the middle.  Emotionally charged colors that recall nature in abstract form.  I returned a few weeks later to revisit the painting. The Tondos, as with her other work, humble all that stand before them.
I was reminded of my encounter with Ms. Mitchell as I came across a striking work on paper by Vincent Hawkins.  The shape was more of an oval but similar in feel and structure.  The starkness of the white paper with bold yet simple color was really something.  The dead leaves and green grass captured by a snow drift waiting for spring’s sweet release.
I viewed the shaped canvas as a kitschy device.  To advance the notion of a painting past the surface had not dawned on me until I viewed Richter’s paintings.  I was certainly aware of renaissance tondos down to the lozenge canvases of Mondrian but none of those works made me reconsider the rectangle as the only viable means of painting.

The Brute, acrylic and pastel on canvas, tondo 12 in. (diameter)

Brian Edmonds in his studio in Huntsville, AL, 2013

On Process:

The three paintings in this series were executed at roughly the same time.  I wanted the works to be a natural extension of my painting.  In the beginning a few lines or shapes were drawn across the canvas.  Then a thin layer of white acrylic was pulled across the surface with a plastic putty knife to create a sense of depth.  Varying shades of blue, both light ultramarine and delft blue are favorites, and pink populate my work.  The use of a muscular black was suggested by the painter Espen Erichsen.  Years ago I used black as a sort of crutch to fall back on when things hit a wall.  I now use it in a more thoughtful manner.   
I allow the painting to dictate the course.  I no longer use preparatory sketches. There is no preconceived notion of how the work will play out.  Limiting the palette to a handful of strong colors paired with white and black have made a difference in the small canvases.  Using a kitchen knife I will cut out and pull back areas, revealing the pentimenti of early pastel markings.
It is funny to think back to my first serious works and compare them to my more recent paintings.  Even though I work somewhat differently than in the past I am still using some of the same tricks to achieve an outcome.  Simply put sometimes the old way is the best way.

In addition to maintaining his painting practice, Edmonds curates the online art space, Curating Contemporary.

Currently, Edmonds' work can be seen in two concurrent group shows. What I Like About You (Parallel Art Space in Ridgewood, Queens) and What I Like About You-North (Imogene Holloway Gallery in Saugerties, NY). Both exhibitions are on view until June 30, 2013 and were organized by Julie Torres.

*all images courtesy of the artist.

1 comment:

Steve Gibson said...

Nice straight forward description of the approach Edmonds take to think through and develop his imagery. One of the more thoughtful young artists working today.