Michael Brennan: New Work

June 29, 1999 - July 31, 1999

Yoshii Gallery is pleased to announce New Work by Michael Brennan this summer. This is the artist’s first show uptown, and his first with Yoshii Gallery. This exhibition includes a dozen of Brennan’s moody and minimal works on paper which appears in the main space, followed by a trio of large color-charged paintings in the back gallery.

Brennan uses simple techniques to generate highly evocative art.  In most of the works on paper, an image is realized in an area of acrylic paint which is then glazed over in a transparent ink with a credit card.  The simply rendered abstract image can suggest any number of elemental visions, including light passing by through the woods, or the lambent flames of a fire.

One series of drawings, collectively titled “Liquid Crystal”, explores the structural similarities between rough hewn crystals as found in nature, and the clean crystals employed by technology.  The images in this group of drawings are partially determined by chance.  Here the artist creates a chaotic relief from the imprint of crumpled newsprint and foil.  These are reminiscent of the graphic, seemingly lunar landscapes of the 17th century Dutch iconoclast Hercules Seghers.

Another group of works on paper, Night, deals with more personal, nightmarish imagery.  Shapes that suggest the contours of bats’ wings recall Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.  Works in the Radiance series are mostly drawn in silverpoint, and attempt to convey the glowing effect of light with only unbroken and wavering lines.  The Vibration series references ideas from both String Theory and eastern philosophy, which propose in their own ways that universal harmony stems from sub-atomic vibrating loops and strands.  Shapes and silhouettes are incised into the medium with a razor and palette knife.

The strength of these drawings lies in their elusive appeal.  Since their grounds begin with silver, graphite, sepia, and indigo colors, they sometimes remind people of non-color, or non-camera photographs, while others mistakenly read them as etchings or monotypes.  Brennan’s indigo grounds contain flecks of mica that are similar to the reflective backgrounds of Sharaku’s woodblock prints of Kabuki actors.

The trio of paintings in back address similar issues, through a more complex use of color, image, and scale.  Their titles are, Away From the Numbers, Softly as in a Morning Sunrise, and Silicon Second Nature.  As the last title indicates, Brennan is primarily interested in the space where human concerns and digital technology meet.

Additional information and reproductions are available from the gallery upon request.  An essay accompanies the show by the critic/historian Melanie Marino.  New Work is presented in cooperation with Lucas Schoormans.