April 18 – May 25, 2015
Reception: Saturday, April 18, 6–8 PM
In my studio there are heaps of pages. Some have been on my large drawing table for close to thirty years. The pages are collectors. That is their job, their nature. They are indiscriminate. They will collect good and bad drawing, conscious and incidental marks, dirt, dust, and the finest fine art materials. My role is to make sure the pages are positioned so as to be prone and receptive.
I function as a custodian or caretaker, arranging the pages and putting them in the way, where they are most susceptible to studio activity. Strewn and stacked, the pages brush up against each other and share information.
I work consciously on pages, making deliberate, focused marks, while at the same time, other pages become marked unconsciously. A page that has recently been worked is returned to a stack where it marks its neighbor. In a sense, I am kept out of the way. The pages demand their own space and they don't allow my intentions to crowd it.
As the pages are pushed through time the conscious and incidental marks accrue and become confused. It is difficult, and ultimately uninteresting to try and parse incident from accident, and mindful from distracted. It is preferable to allow the pages to function as collectors, to watch as the accumulation documents the history of their making.
The bottles are filled with Love Gasoline. The recipe is nothing fancy, and it's never the same twice. Ingredients can be linseed oil, olive oil, peanut oil, motor oil, a few drops of water… always with a dollop of oil paint from the tube, or sometimes an entire oil stick inserted. It's more about the aging than the ingredients, though, and where and how they are aged. Sometimes the bottles are placed in the studio where they can be in the direct sunlight for long periods of time; sometimes they are stashed in the dark under the drawing table.
The impulse came from wanting to have a drawing material that is pre-aged. Time has always been the main material in The Look Stains. All of the pages in project were new when they were introduced into the studio process – in other words, they were fresh from the supplier with no previous history on them. I could never imagine using found paper or pages with someone else's marks or history on them. It's a huge enough task just to collaborate with myself. But I was interested in some of the oil being "cooked" a little before hand. It's another way of disrupting time – by working with fresh oil and aged oil on the same page (a page that more often than not already had information from days or months or years previous). I was able to introduce two different times simultaneously. Now, that page ages at a constant speed, but some materials had a head start.
The concoctions are called Love Gasoline, a term lifted from the secretion that Duchamp's Bride uses to excite her suitors. It is a fuel for the drawings, a lubricant for looking.
Brad Brown is an artist working primarily on drawings and works on paper. His drawing projects tend to be large, open-ended series that can remain unfinished for years. His largest project to date, The Look Stains, began in 1987 and consists of tens of thousands of works on paper that are continually worked on, torn up, re-drawn, and re-contextualized.
His work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (NY), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF, CA), the National Gallery (Washington, DC), Palace of Legion of Honor (SF, CA), Arkansas Museum of Art (Littlerock, AK), and the Boise Art Museum (Boise, ID), among others. He currently lives and works in San Francisco, CA.