Artist of the Week: Andrew Brischler

Andrew Brischler (b. 1987, Long Island, NY) lives and works in New York, NY.

Since graduating from the School of Visual Arts MFA program in 2012, Brischler’s work has appeared in exhibitions throughout New York City and abroad. In 2012, Brischler opened his first solo exhibition, Goodbye to All That, at Gavlak Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida. That same year, Brischler’s work was featured in New American Paintings #98: Northeast Edition.  In 2013, he was included in the exhibition 39greatjones curated by Ugo Rondinone at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, Switzerland; he contributed work to the Whitney Museum of American Art Benefit Art Party Auction, and he was featured in a two-person booth alongside photographer David Haxton with Gavlak Gallery at NADA New York. In October 2013, Brischler was awarded a 2013 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Arts Grant.

Currently, Brischler just opened his second solo exhbition with Gavlak Gallery in November 2013 as well as be featured in Gavlak Gallery’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach this December. In addition, Brischler’s work will be included in a group show This is the Story of America focusing on young New York painters at Brand New Gallery in Milan, Italy, and in January 2014, Brischler will contribute a new large scale painting to a major group survey, Painting: A Love Story, at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, Texas.

Andrew Brischler is represented by Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FL.
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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Andrew Brischler. I grew up on Long Island, received my BFA from SUNY New Paltz in 2009, and received my MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2012. I used to say that I was an abstract painter, but recently I’ve dropped the “abstract” part––something just didn’t sound right about it. So I’ll just say that I’m a painter.

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What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? First of all, I’d just like to come clean and fess up to being a proud subscriber of cable television, a fact which I’ve become increasingly shameful about being a twenty-something living in Brooklyn. Right now, I’m totally immersed in American Horror Story: Coven (Angela Bassett hasn’t channeled vengeance this expertly since her seminal role in Waiting to Exhale), and if I’m not at my studio on Sunday afternoons, I usually find myself entrenched in an hours-long Roseanne marathon on WEtv; Roseanne is, without a doubt, my favorite sitcom and continues to stay, almost 15 years after it’s series finale, totally relevant.

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What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I think any young artist with some semblance of “buzz” around his or her work deals with a level of doubt and dread. Honestly, I constantly struggle with issues of self-worth, the work never feeling really good enough (whatever that means), and how it fits––if at all––into the dialogue of the New York art world. It’s a balancing act; you want to make work that will get you noticed but is also still inexplicably, deeply you. And then I look at these guys with an incredible amount of white heat around them––Lucien Smith, Sam Falls, Jacob Kassay, Oscar Murillo—who two years ago made work in relative obscurity and are now being thrown around by mega galleries, seeing work they made 12 months ago up at auction, and they’re still expected to make good work? It all makes my head spin.
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If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? My work takes notions of weakness as an abstract painter and connects them to my own personal feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness as a gay man. To that end, I recycle standard tropes of abstraction. Hard edged geometry, super-saturated color gradients, bold stripes, and thick bands of impastoed paint are isolated onto studio-beaten canvas, and embedded with pieces of contemporary culture like fragments of typography, nonsensical doodles, and titles culled from hip-hop lyrics. The finished paintings are at once pieces of cultural detritus as well as documents of my own uneasiness: images that conflate definitions of success and failure, chance and contrivance, aloofness and emotional unraveling.

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What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I’m really devoted to traditional materials––oil paint, acrylic paint, colored pencils, markers, and graphite. My process is usually driven by an initial image in my head inspired by anything from the typeface of a movie poster to color combinations in Paul Klee’s early work. Then it’s just about execution, and depending on the type of piece I’m working on, the execution can take anywhere from a week (my recent Air paintings are all about 5-6 glazes of oil paint on smoothly gessoed canvas) to 2-3 months for the colored pencil drawings on panel; the colored pencil pieces are exhausting, frustrating, tedious, and seriously painful for my hand; that notion of labor, discipline, self-sacrifice, and slow punishment is so important to the conceptual success of them.
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What artists are you interested in right now? This is a short mix of all time favorites and current obsessions:  Mary Heilmann, Alex Katz, Wade Guyton, Bjarne Melgaard, John McCracken, David Wojnarowicz, Cindy Sherman, Dana Schutz, Ed Ruscha, Mark Grotjahn, Matt Connors, Wendy White, Rob Pruitt, Joe Bradley, Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman, Ugo Rondinone, Christopher Wool, and last but certainly not least, my boss, Marilyn Minter.

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How has your work developed within the past year? I think my practice has made a complete 180-degree change since finishing grad school in May 2012. I went straight from undergraduate school right into my graduate program, which meant that until recently I had never made work outside of an academic context––that is to say, without constant engagement with peers, professors, visiting critics, and those latent trends in painting that develop subconsciously within art schools. Since then, I’ve begun making work in a bigger, brighter, completely private studio, and the change has been dramatic. The work has gotten bigger, cleaner, become significantly more labor intensive, and has shifted away from the trend of “provisional painting” that I and many of my peers embraced. I’ve really become invested in the craft of painting and drawing––how the slow build up of material with my hands creates a deep, embedded sense pathos to the object.

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? The Martin Creed shows up now at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Hauser & Wirth are pretty amazing. I haven’t seen the Mike Kelley show at MoMA PS1 yet, but I’m going to preemptively say that one will definitely be a game changer for me.

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What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Without a doubt, my guilty pleasure in the studio is a two-pack of brown sugar and cinnamon Pop-Tarts from the bodega around the corner.

What do you do when you’re not working on art? One word: SoulCycle.
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What are you listening to right now? On current heavy rotation:  Lady Gaga, ARTPOP (it isn’t good, but “Gypsy” is revelatory); Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin on WNYC; the Mary J. Blige Christmas Album, A Mary Christmas; CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe; Janet Jackson, Number Ones; Madonna, Bedtime Stories; and most recently, the score to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, composed by Ennio Morricone.