Brian Porray Reviewed in October 2012 Issue of Modern Painters

BLOUINARTINFO.COM OCTOBER 2012 MODERN PAINTERS

REVIEWS

LOS ANGELES

Brian Porray, "V4S()C()NSTRYKT()R"

Brian Porray Western Project // May 19 – July 7, 2012 By Holly Myers

Encountering Porray's paintings as I did, on a day of dismayingly unexceptional gallery hopping, when nothing the art world had to offer seemed capable of mounting a very good argument against the temptation to head for the beach, was a bit like meeting the one entertaining stranger at an otherwise tedious office party. His name was unfamiliar, his CV modest: A recent graduate of the MFA program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (he ow lives in Claremont, just east of Los Angeles), he had a backroom solo show at Western Project last year but has otherwise shown primarily in Las Vegas and Reno. A preliminary glance at the images on the gallery's Web site, moreover, had been notably misleading. In reproduction, the work has a flat, graphic character that would seem to consign it to the category of pleasant but facile geometric abstraction. In person, however, this is clearly not the case: Drop them into such a category and these marvelous paintings would probably rattle out of their own accord. They're loud, messy, intricate, weird, and buzzing with ardent, reckless energy.

In an artist statement Porray likens the show to "the psychedelic memory of a psychedelic memory." and roots its genesis in a fraught vision of the Luxor hotel that came to him at one of the 'chemically enhanced desert parties" that defined his adolescence in Las Vegas. The hotel, a 30-story glass pyramid that shoots an egregiously powerful beam of light into the heavens from its apex, echoes through the work in the form of a repeated triangular motif, around which all manner of pictorial havoc unfolds. In each of the three largest paintings – the biggest being 8-by-18 feet – a pyramid at the base of the canvas lends the composition an air of architectural stability, while a second, inverted pyramid above seems to  willfully upend all such expectations, as if in portentous affirmation of the multidimensionality of the cosmos. Meanwhile, a blazingly chaotic miscellany of patterns unfolds across every available surface: stripes, checkerboards, circles, square, saw tooth edges, and rainbow arches – all fluctuating continually from crisp and neat to loose and sloppy, wavering and dripping. Imagine an Op art monograph put through a shredder and patched together again by an enthusiastic speed freak in the dark. A handful of smaller, triangular canvases, most hung point down like banners from the junction of the wall and the ceiling, complement the tumult with a touch of small-town car dealership festivity.

In another unusually entertaining artist statement, which was included in Porray's first show at ht gallery, the artist offers a compelling take on the dystopic, neo-futurist, post apocalyptic landscape in paintings – speculations that apply as neatly to this body of work as to the one he showed the previous year – before concluding: "But also, I feel strongly that the work should have real visual consequence – like, it should be a real fucking trip to stand in front of….super active and maybe even a bit nauseating – but definitely not shy or passive."  Shy or passive this work is not, indeed, and thank goodness. In his bold, is slightly mad attention to "visual consequence," Porray achieves what painting rarely attempts anymore: the creation of a world in which it is not only a pleasure but a thrill to lose oneself.

// Holly Myers

http://www.artinfo.com/modern-painters-table-of-contents/

Brian Porray --(\DARKHOR5E/)--

New Paintings and Drawings May 19 – July 7, 2012 Opening reception Saturday May 19th 6-8pm

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Western Project is proud to present the first major Los Angeles exhibition of works by Brian Porray. Now a resident of Claremont, California, the artist paints and collages large-scale works influenced by his twenty-plus years on the neon streets of Las Vegas:

This work is sort of like the psychedelic memory of a psychedelic memory. All of these pieces are focused solely on the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas, an enormous black pyramid shaped mega-resort that was built during my first year of high school. Since I wasn't old enough to party on The Strip, my experience of Las Vegas at night was as a neon backdrop for chemically enhanced desert parties. I vaguely remember standing in the dirt staring up at the beam of light shooting out of the Luxor's peak - - after a minute my eyes adjusted and I could almost make out what looked like huge black bats swarming around the top of the pyramid. The light didn't dissolve the way a flashlight does - it was so much brighter. It felt solid, like I could climb up through it. I hadn't really looked at the light until that night, and I remember being terrified - - psychologically it totally fucked me up.

The Luxor and its beacon are central themes in this body of work as a point of conceptual origin;  the triangle is the basic unit of formal organization and composition. In the 1990’s the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas was seen as a premier example of post-modern architecture; the black glass pyramid intentionally recalling the history of other desert pyramids.  As pure architectural artifice on the Vegas Strip, the Luxor created an ominous, but transformational experience for the artist.

 --(\DARKHOR5E/)-- is a convoluted universe of spaces/atmospheres/images; conversely, made with economic means: painted, drawn, slashed and pasted together. Most of the works have a central point, radiating outwards, breaking space into a multitude of micro worlds and patterns. The notion of traditional grid space is usurped by triangular shapes which explode and multiply in myriad possibilities, as though science and technology have crashed and burned into a formal and toxic landscape. The artist also uses drawing and printing to reproduce or replicate motifs of space, all heavily collaged on canvas. The images can not be taken in by the human eye all at once due to the multiplicity of forms. Formally tied to the 1960’s Op art of Bridget Riley, Porray’s constructions move sideways and contrary: compositions burst with seeming chaos while bound together in a kind of Buckminster Fuller / tweaker architecture.

The work plays notions of ornamentation, systems, and orderliness into unexpected corners; humorous, apocalyptic and radiant. His vision is not of an organic nature, but conceptual, mathematic realms. While some of his geometric patterning mirrors folk art quilts, they also recall the futuristic films, Brazil and Blade Runner, yet any somberness is eradicated as the artist seems to have hacked Matisse’s color wheel to animate the darkness.

Using cyberspace language: leet or leetspeak (once an obscure language of computer geeks and hackers) to title his works, Porray melds notions of the digital and material worlds; techno language as a code to point to or locate objects and more, essence. In --(\DARKHOR5E/)-- , the veil has dropped, the acid too, and so the definitions we hold precious: now we see.

Brian Porray’s work was recently acquired by the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation, Los Angeles; he is a 2012 Fellow at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, Nebraska;  and a previous recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2010. Brian's work has appeared in New American Paintings #84, and #87. He was included in ‘Spectrum’ at the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery, Cal Poly Pomona, California, and has shown at Tomkins Projects, Brooklyn, New York, Trifecta Gallery in Las Vegas, and Sheppard Fine Arts in Reno, Nevada. Porray is an MFA graduate of the University of Las Vegas.

Brian Porray is an MFA graduate of the University of Las Vegas, and lives and works in Claremont, California.

For information and images, contact the gallery at 310-838-0609 cliff@western-project.com / erin@western-project.com

Brian Porray / Supersymmetry for SP33D FR34KS / May 7 - June 11, 2011

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For immediate release:

BRIAN PORRAY

Supersymmetry for SP33D FR34KS New Paintings and Drawings

May 7 – June 11, 2011

Western Project is proud to present the debut of paintings and drawings by Brian Porray. Having grown up in Las Vegas and also receiving his MFA from the University of Las Vegas, Porray spins his history and obsessions with science and technology, and a graffiti background into a formal and toxic language. Using paint, printed papers and tape on canvas and panels, the work appears heir to 20th century Futurists such as Balla, Severini and Boccioni. However, living in Las Vegas for twenty odd years provides a particular ‘western’ perspective as the artist notes:

okay, so...i've been describing the work as a kind of astro-tweaker pastiche - meaning that i see it as describing a kind of hybrid techno-futuristic fucked-up landscape...one where our meanings and forms are derived from whatever piles of scrappy shit and detritus happen to be laying around

- - roll it up in a ball and light it on fire.

in a sci-fi post-apocalyptic type way, i think that we may do well to re-construct things around us with the formal attitudes of tweakers...slipshod with lots of duct tape and mountain dew, but also overly complex and highly sophisticated...i'm trying to describing this visually, so my paintings aren't really abstract at all, but more like psychedelic landscapes filled with broken technological assemblages -- they're like images of machines that have been stripped of any real function or meaning outside of their own visual complexity...kind of like looking at a car after it's been crashed.

basically, as things accelerate they become less and less stable - i like to make the work look as if it's about to meltdown or explode from it's own rapidly expanding architecture. everything in the work is suspect and corrupt - the op art-ish drawings are like snapshots of a system just before it collapses...i also like to say that as the variables in any given system increase, our understanding of that system escalates toward abstraction - - most of the work revolves around this central idea of simultaneously accelerated and attenuated scale. kind of how the stock market is an accelerated idea of the actual physical market - but the variables are huge and beyond calculation...so the images that i'm making don't describe facts, systems, or objects accurately – but in a much more obtuse and accelerated sense.....i think.

but also, i feel strongly that the work should have real visual consequence - like, it should be a real fucking trip to stand in front of...super active and maybe even a bit nauseating - but definitely not shy or passive...really crunchy and saccharine.

things that are grist for the mill: vegas/methlab decor/science fiction/psychedelic posters/the cramps/astronomy"

With a link to hard edge painting and Op art of the 1960’s, his voice veers and blends more accurately with the DYI legacy from the mid 1970’s: embrace all vices and virtues – possibly burn them down, and reconstruct them in a searing beauty; but transform them in to a more purposeful meaningful world. All bets are off but the game is surely and raucously on.

Brian Porray is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant 2010. He lives and works in Claremont, California. His work has appeared in New American Paintings #84, and #87. He was recently included in ‘Spectrum’ at the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery, Cal Poly Pomona, California, and has shown at Tomkins Projects, Brooklyn, New York, Trifecta Gallery in Las Vegas, and Sheppard Fine Arts in Reno, Nevada.

For information and images, contact the gallery at 310-838-0609 cliff@western-project.com / erin@western-project.com

Also on view in the main gallery: Wayne White: Sand Mountain Tractor