After a break from painting, I've been asked to participate in a show (May 2019).
It always takes a muse.
For once I'll create a traditional sort of artist's statement...
I drew constantly as a kid. Getting lost in art is a meditation.
I began painting at sixteen A friend gave me his father's paints and said 'use
these'. Painting was never a quiet meditation like drawing. Painting for me was a
orchestrated frenzy of movement, of music and chills, and in vino, Bacchic. It lights
up your brain: it's focus and execution, the pre-planning of how the paint will
interact, disperse, dry, and react.
I painted regularly until my late twenties when I took a break to reset life.
I picked it up again after I experienced what some would call trauma, and others
would infer painting was therapeutic, but it was neither: it's just lighting up the
brain. I didn't assign any therapeutic value to the act of painting, and didn't assign
meaning, until a young French woman asked what they meant. The meaning of a
painting is just another construct.
So I fired up my education, my knowledge of psychology, mysticism, and
religion and created a hybrid of spirituality and semiotics and assigned the
paintings meaning. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the assigned meaning guided
and reinforced the subsequent creations. Somewhere along the line I segued from
abstract expressionism into impressionistic landscapes that had an undercurrent
of half-detectable symbolism, ambiguous enough to elicit pareidolia in the viewer
and reinforce the three-fold conceits of aleatoricism, the role of the subconscious,
and mysticism in my works. It's only self-interpretation in the end, an interesting
side-note on the nature of where the truth lies between the interpretations of two
people and the possibility (or impossibility) of understanding between individuals.
I don't much pontificate on the meaning of my paintings now.
I took another break a few years ago and have been absorbed creating
something in my professional field. The thought processes and energies involved
are the antithesis of creativity. And I keep these two worlds separate (my art and
my professional career}.
Now though, I'm glad to be painting again, and pleased with the results. I've
christened another studio and am generating new works for the upcoming May
2019 show 'Voyages of Exploration' to be hosted by the Sprinkler Factory in
So we'll see.
|Scott Erb photo, from '20 Artists'
"About the painting...
I've been exploring landscapes for the last 7 years or so.
I tend to have an idea of palette and composition/proportion, but my technique is
in washes--no brush work, found objects with particular properties to manipulate
the paint, and then the viscosity, drying time, and tendency to dissipate when I
spray it with enzymes or other substances that cause the paint to react. Much of
the painting's progress is aleatory, with details and effects emerging from guided
I go about creating the painting's foundation in two ways: either starting with a
smooth canvas, light prep, or a stippled surface from laying down a layer of gesso.
This particular style, the primitive landscape, emerged when I was painting pieces
for my show at the Fruitlands. I grew up in Bedford, in the heart of colonial
history, and sort of became fascinated by Hawthorne-esque images of a definite
spiritualism around New England landscapes.
While chance plays out in the curve of line and highlighting, often the line of the
painting will remind me of either the Bedford/Concord area, Concord River, the
Concord bridge by the Manse, etc., or equally as often, of Lake Winnipesaukee
many years ago, as was the case with this one, hence naming it 'the lake'.
'Winnipesaukee' I believe translated to 'the place of the god' I've had a tendency
toward baroque titles in the past but rather than 'the place of the god, the lake,
night' I kept the titles short for these pieces (the 5 for this particular show).
I tend to fuse chance, the subconscious, pareidolia, and spirituality in both the
conceit for my paintings as well as the techniques and overall philosophy of
|Brian Burris faces infernos, within and without
By Erik Radvon
Combat boots. Shaved head. Natty Ray-Bans.
As the hulking frame of Worcester artist Brian Burris welcomes you into
his studio, the feeling is like you are going somewhere underground.
Somewhere dusty, old, abandoned, yet still clinging to the underbelly of
Worcester’s social scene, serving some marginal purpose.
Not that Burris can be called marginal. In the Worcester art world, Burris is
a gale force of creativity, pumping out art as if his adrenal glands are in
constant overdrive. The fireman/abstract artist/suburban soccer coach has
sold over 40 paintings since 2001, the year he returned to art after nearly a
decade in self-imposed exile.
There are more than a few stories to tell about Brian Burris. There’s the
one about the 16-year-old kid who left home to join the ranks of Jack Kerouac,
Hunter S. Thompson, and Jackson Pollack in a world of binge drinking, bare-
knuckled brawling, and artistic expression.
Then there’s the story of the one-time Army Reservist and current
lieutenant with the Worcester Fire Department. A certain air that hangs around
the people who make their living doing society’s most important, disturbing,
and dangerous jobs, and nowhere is that air thicker than over the head of
Next to that, there’s the family man. Wife. Kids. House. Youth Sports. The
Then there’s the story of the Brian Burris who ambles into a quasi-
gentrified mill building at strange hours of the night to drink wine and create
striking images on canvas. The paintings could be called abstract, and they
are in the sense that there are no houses or mallard ducks, but something
concrete underlies the creative fog. The pictures are snapshots from the mind’
s eye, or a twisted, fiery alternate universe version of the mind’s eye. One piece
looks like the point of view of a dying man in a desert, glimpsing out onto an
ever-expanding horizon and a sky burning with yellow and orange. Another
trades earth tones for stark reds and blacks, standing out like a fire engine on
a city street. And yet another is barely more than a wisp, a collection of whites
and soft blues spinning together in some ethereal dance.
Burris has constructed a yarn of talking points that an artist of his
commercial success is seemingly required to carry, like a fishing license. The
perfect-for-Channel 4 story goes like this: While the rest of us were getting our
millennium-on, circa Y2K, Burris experienced the loss of colleagues in the line
of duty, followed by the death of his father, the passing of more friends, and a
string of grisly, fatal car accidents he responded to on the job. More than
enough psychological reckoning to justify a blazing return to painting, but the
story falls flat. There is something mysterious and wonderful about Burris’
streak of successful creative output, and though the hard-knocks resume is
100-percent genuine, Burris still has too much of his old abstract-
expressionist piss and vinegar to really play the tortured first-responder-
turned-artist with a straight face.