Colorado Contemporary Museums

Brian Bress: MCA Denver

Denver -- FEBRUARY 20, 2016 – JULY 3, 2016 --

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From T minus 10 years to something good.

These photographs are pretty representative of Bress’ work – his most recent work – which captured my eyes for longer than was good for them.  The image in the background – let’s call it the secondary layer – is on a person. It is a costume on a living, moving person and so while this static image is what you will see during one frame of the video, the next frame will be slightly different.  If you’ve ever worked with Photoshop or Illustrator you know the feeling of layers. You understand that you can turn them on and off and change their transparency. Every time I start a new project in one of these Adobe products the future of design is in front of me and it feels infinite.

These works are physical and represent this feeling, although in a grounded earthly way. It is like physically be shown models of the solar system and learning why the moon appears to be a crescent. The above photos of one work were shot at two different times but is is hard to see the differences between them when you aren’t standing in front of the screens. The images are distraction free.  The artist has taken this piece to a level of technical perfection that leaves a viewer with no other subject matter – no other technical distractions either – and while the changes are subtle they can be seen as soon as you devote your eyes to it, easily recognized because of this perfection – and  what I experience can hardly be reproduced outside of the experience of being there.  The work is itself the work, not a photo of it. Valuable.

Previous work the artist made in this same style have far too many distractions – gooey makeup on the subject’s body or hands, too much face time, contrived subject matter.  They are fun, or funny, but not sublime.  The costumes aren’t beautiful in real life like Nick Cage’s costumes.

But the most recent work is worth the visit.  I finally read the ‘press notes’ about the show and realize that the journey may be exactly what the curator wanted to show.

Brian Bress: Make Your Own Friends surveys the last ten years of the artist’s practice, bringing together video, sculpture, and works on paper for the first time. The works on view highlight the artist’s unique process that migrates from two dimensions to three and back again. Bress’s imaginative characters are born as doodles or collages, take shape as sculptural costumes, and come to life on video, as they are performed in front of elaborately composed backdrops. Connecting the past with the present, Bress’s “friends” imaginatively breach disciplinary distinctions amongst painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, and video.

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