ANDREW BRISCHLER: THE MAGICAL MARKING OF TIME
I met the wunderkind Andrew Brischler two years ago, discovering his paintings - rough around the raw canvas edges and pulsating with the vibrancy of meticulously applied shapes of neon and primary hues – at SVA’s MFA open studios. Calling him one to watch before the others did, I’ve kept a close eye on him and others have too understandably. He was taken into the strong fold of Gavlak Gallery’s program and his work is finding itself at home among solid collections already.
Our paths continuing to cross, I said I was overdue for a studio visit when we saw each other recently at MAD’s “Bring Back the Ball” gala, where his work “Novacane (Red)” 2014 was up in our benefit auction and successfully hammered down after a ping-pong match of bidding. It was he who reminded me that it had already been two years since our first encounter in the tiny space of SVA’s studios. But stepping foot into his airy sunlit studio in Sunset Park on a recent Sunday, I realized that this young painter has matured quickly.
We got to talking through his path from undergrad studies at SUNY New Paltz where he had strong training in painting and drawing, to the signature imagery he started honing at SVA under the guidance of teachers like Marilyn Minter, whose studio he went to work in for almost two years. He clearly learned how to control and coordinate his color working under Minter, introducing a dialogue that flows more than it did between the canvases I first discovered. Where a loud, fun bantering was going on in the early 2012 works, today there is a smart, witty, and thought-provoking conversation flowing throughout his oil series and candidly and expressively so in his colored pencil drawing series.
At SUNY New Paltz, Brischler craved instruction on the ropes of navigating a career as a professional artist, but found he had to teach himself. He is a mastered professional by nature; this young man knows what he wants and won’t settle for anything less than the best he can manage, down to the frames and presentation of every piece. He says his time at SVA taught him to “swallow his heroes” – Ed Ruscha, Cy Twombly, Jenny Saville – which is so apparent once you see his early work. Where before there were more literal layers of Ruscha-esque text overlapped by Twombly dribbles, Brischler’s present work shows these influences as swallowed AND digested, imbuing a very strong voice that is notably his own with just the spirit of those heroes.
As we look at a wall covered with recent drawings, a series called "The Foul Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart,” (taken from a Yeats poem), I envision them as having a statement place in his retrospective at a paramount museum years ahead. As he talks about them, he vocalizes this very aspiration for them. Why wouldn’t he. These are not sketches supporting paintings, although some have and will influence larger works. These drawings are not just works on paper but are a wholly thought out and masterfully executed gestalt - pieces which function perfectly well individually but as a group enter into a full story.
His unstoppable energy is self-combusting into a flare of new work and exhibitions.
Brischler is showing for the first time in the UK at The Arts Club in London concurrent with Alex Prager, up through September 27. Featured in the show is a gorgeous oil from his Air series, paintings made up of 3-5 layers of exquisitely blended oil paint using techniques that go back to the days of da Vinci. The exhibition is titled Patient Zero, stemming from a story he heard on NPR while working in the studio of a gay flight attendant who was wrongly blamed for being the origin of the AIDS pandemic in the U.S. It is crucial to Brischler to place himself within the context of what it means to be a gay man, and a gay artist, creating work in the political context of contemporary culture.
His work fits well in the context of the upcoming Paddle8 auction “Pride,” organized by Matthew Knight, Private Client and Auction Specialist at P8, to celebrate LGBT artists and subject matter, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Fire Island Artist Residency and Queer NY. Brischler’s “Hunger” (colored pencil and marker on paper, 2014) is strongly situated among works by established and emerging artists such as Keltie Ferris, Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ryan James MacFarland and Andy Warhol to Chris Bogia, Roe Ethridge and Tom of Finland, among others.
“Hunger” and his other colored pencil works epitomize his mastery of color, obsession with fragmented snippets of text, and control of the composition while also allowing himself to spiral out slightly. The slips and scribbles are where the tight control of his coloring got the best of his tired grip. These scribbles show the futility of what the touch of the artist’s hand means. “I’ve spent the last 2 years in the studio figuring out the hardest way to make a painting,” Brischler says. “Through that I’ve really dealt into what making a beautiful object actually means today.”
Words such as “hunger,” “air,” and “new” to him are so familiar to us and a record of our time. These words evoke associations - Nike, The New York Post – Brischler’s way of understanding yet undermining our culture today. Every work of Brischler’s is a record of his time, and together his young oeuvre is already the making of a beautiful artistic career, one that I’m very excited to continue watching.
See more at andrewbrischler.com and his marvelous tumblr.