Brian’s home life was shaped early on by his father’s experimentation and delight in the creation of the weird and wonderful. Robert’s whole family was invited to participate in elaborately staged historical scenarios, which created a potent mix of art and family that would greatly influence his son: “Great-uncles, old aunts, grandparents, and my mom and I were all the subjects of staged scenarios. An aerial photo of my Italian grandfather playing cards with his four brothers in a smoke-filled room comes to mind- also my great-uncle, with his wrinkled face, sitting with a banjo in the weed cellar. I remember the Henry VIII scene with my dad’s cousin dressed as the stout king, surrounded by his four wives- my mom and three aunts, all dressed in period costumes.”
The first of Brian’s performances we saw here in New York was at the White Box “Majority Whip” show, a quasi-political group show held in the opposition to the already dirty war in Iraq. Brian’s performance was a simple protest of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. He stood outside the gallery on a wooden box, silent and naked but for a piece of burlap around his waist. He had a pillowcase over his head, and metal wires wrapped around and dangling from his wrists, his arms slightly raised. His feet were dirty and he was sweating and smelled terrible even from a few feet away. He vomited under the pillowcase. The piece was appropriately terrifying. Something about his silence- in the middle of the crowded, late-spring Chelsea sidewalk, where people were cele-brating artworks and egos in the brightly lit gallery below- was sobering in a way seldom seen in art.
Brian has admitted to inheriting many things from his dad: a drive to entertain by any means necessary, a fondness for drunken stylings, a strong graphic sensibility, a deep love of absurdity, and an appreciation for “old junk”- which has led to his bent on collecting and reusing. In Brian’s small apartment, one room is hardly accessible due to the piles of boxes, junk, books, and old tapes deposited there. The studio room contains a series of piles and spills of paper cuttings, paintings on paper, and books and records. There is always something new and weird to check out in that sea of color and images scattered in all states of assemblage. From these piles of color and imagery, Brian creates lyrical, and sometimes absurd, narratives. When experienced, these compositions inevitably lead one on the kind of abstract journey that is impossible to travel without Brian’s work. (…)
The work and ideas spill out of Brian at a rate too furious to handle: the ongoing collage practice; the notebook drawings; the comics; the collage books and found photo books; the paintings on glass (two sets of imagery- clock-eyed cats and boom boxes); found-sound work; constant collaboration; and endless performance. And that’s on top of his full-time career as a prank phone-caller. He knows his practice is unruly, but what can he do? Brain himself is unruly. His irreverence and unfaltering enthusiasm is often exhausting, and at times is a deliberate bombardment. But Brian would rather be annoying than boring. It is his desperate need to express, create, and entertain that sets him apart from so much of the market-driven art of this decade. For this, we are grateful to Brian- and, in turn, to his dad.
Texts published in Wipe that clock off your face - Brian Belott, Picture box, 2007
PRESS RELEASE March 11-May 9, 2009 Close Print www.brianbelott.com