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Open Thread - Blog


November 18th, 2008
Adam Atkinson

About Brian Brown


Visit Carnegie Mellon’s MFA program at the College of Fine Arts, and you’ll see and hear a lot about “new media,” that elusive term that encompasses most video, CG, interactive work, and lots more. You’d imagine that a painter would have to be pretty special to break through in a program so focused on technological potential. And in the case of Brian Brown, you’d be correct.

Brian’s visually stunning, painstakingly detailed work often tricks observers into thinking he’s an inventive photographer. Instead, he’s a quirky, sickeningly skilled painter, with an incredibly distinct style that resonates with critics and laymen alike. You can find three (three!) of his paintings in the forthcoming Open Thread Regional Review, Vol. 1, and you can see the rest at his flickr site. If you’re interested in commissioning, buying, or featuring Brian’s work (which you surely will be after viewing his work), you can reach him at bmbrown@andrew.cmu.edu.

Straight from the Artist’s Mouth!

OT Blog: You’ve only relocated to Pittsburgh recently, in order to study painting at Carnegie Mellon’s Fine Arts MFA program. What did you expect from Pittsburgh as an environment for your life and work? What sort of environment has Pittsburgh actually been?

Brian Brown: I’d watched “Wonder Boys” and thought that Michael Douglas would have been at CMU just to expose ME to illegal substances for the first time too (like he did for Tobey Maguire in the picture), but then I was assigned a studio on campus and was sent to the basement of Doherty Hall to catch cucarachas– five stories beneath the ground. ¬†Since then I’ve relocated to the fourth floor of the College of Fine Arts and things have been better. ¬†Wonder Boys is a great film though. Otherwise, Pittburgh is really confusing to me. Maybe Pittsburgh is just really confused. I really like the vistas / illegal-bonfires-underneath-bridges / pierogies / cheap beer / liberal countercultures. I hate that any time I leave the city, I have to drive for four hours in any direction to find good service. I’ll probably be here for the rest of my life.

OT: The vast majority of your paintings feature at least one human figure. That stands in contrast to a lot of the painting that’s gone on in the past century, even the past decade. What attracts you to human beings (in paintings)?

BB: I’m a completely narcissistic control freak and/or a pervert, apparently. No. I don’t know. I think I once heard a story, or saw a movie, or read somewhere about this guy that kept a false diary in which he lied about everything that happened to him everyday. In making paintings, clearly half of what is being communicated is ABOUT PAINTING (its history, various forms of representation, etc.). Right? With that stated, the images are usually assembled because of this ongoing dialogue that I have with myself, about myself - or my thoughts on whatever I might be thinking about. Yes, I have my opinions. But they’re stated in my work as if I’m whispering to myself, “I’m really not sure if I should be admitting to this.”

OT: What can OT Blog readers expect to hear from you in the coming months?

BB: I’m opting to skip this question if you don’t mind. No, okay, fine. I really want to build an airplane. Laugh if you will, but stranger and less likely things have happened.



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