Last Saturday Los Angeles based artist Brendan Fowler opened his latest portrait instillation ‘New Portraits’ at the Richard Telles Fine Art gallery. Brendan is not only known for his work in the fine art world but has made an impacting presence in the fashion world with his projects ‘Someware‘ and ‘Election Reform‘. Brendan and I spoke yesterday as he walked me through the show and went into detail about his latest body of work.
“Art making used to be very solitary for me” Brendan explains. This latest body of work includes portraits of people and friends who have become “part of the mix”. Brendan explains that with his latest projects, SomeWare and Election Reform, his art making process has become a socially designed process, including hosting parties, putting out records, and collaboration on garments. The beautifully layered portraits include, friends, models, collaborators and colleagues all related to Brendan through his latest artistic endeavors.
I asked how this body of work relates to the clothing. Brendan says, “In a way when I talk about Election Reform and I say it is part this activism thing, part this recycling thing, and part this art edition. This is the art edition aspect. These are all unique works, with the art object preciousness.” He says that they are much not different than a sweatshirt he would make. The sweatshirts are essentially the “drawing” as the portraits are the fine are piece. Brendan’s separate projects of embroidering on clothes and portraits on canvas were once two parallel projects. As Brendan started to incorporate a layering, collage technique into his portraits, the two projects began to merge into more of a unified body of work.
To Brendan these intricate, layered, almost sculpture quality, portraits are closely related to a photograph in his eyes. “Embroidery was an aspect of clothing that I was super obsessed with. At one point I wanted to make these hats so I ended up getting and teaching myself how to work this old industrial embroidery machine. The machine became another tool to output an image just like inkjet printer.” Brendan takes all the pictures that he is making into these pieces. Brendan says that he really considered these pieces to be “objects”, “If it is not a performance it is an object”. The multiple layers, variety of fabrics and embroidery aspect really adds the additional object hood to these portraits that you wouldn’t find in a flat-on painting or digital photographic print.
Finally Brendan expresses that he really wants to afford a personal, emotional experience with this body of work. When creating clothes, his subject is then creating an outward experience by wearing his designs out into the world. With this series Brendan says, ““I really want to afford people an open ended experience. whatever they can get out of it in the amount of time they are looking at it.”
Be sure to check out Brendan’s show at Richard Telles Fine Art Gallery – 7380 Beverly Blvd, Los Angles, CA, 90036. The show is up now through February 11th.