Monthly Archives: September 2014

Future Perfect and Way Out Gallery

Here is what I wrote for the show at Way Out Gallery.

Future Perfect


fu’ture per’fect


  1. 1. of or designating a verb tense or form indicating that the action or state expressed by the verb will be completed by or extended up to a time in the future.


  1. the future perfect tense
  2. a form in this sense


These works were gleaned from two separate but related projects that I’ve been working on for the past 8 years: Minimalism Elite, which re-imagines the past, and Future Living Projects, which imagines the future. They are similar aesthetically but differ in context. Minimalism Elite began as a collection of work that looked for inspiration from the past, at a short period of time after the prevailing trends of Modernism but before the post-capitalist strategies of conceptualist art, driven by collectors eager to consume and invest in a new growing corporate art market. Future Living Projects started as an exploration of art that existed somewhere between design and architecture, a theoretical construct to organize potential possibilities for both a utopian and dystopian future.

The sculpture series A Theory of Forms and Ideas takes its name from Plato’s concept of idealized form which postulates the existence of a “reality” inhabited by the ideal or archetypal form of all things and concepts. The sculptures posit themselves as anti-monuments, an articulated set of organized possibilities that inherently create an awareness of scale that shifts the viewer’s relationship away from traditional, monumentalized work, toward a position of enhanced intimacy. Their form is perceived in one instantaneous and inseparable way as mere simple objects concealing the planning and craft needed to complete the final product.

The painting The Pleasure of Deceit offers a mental construction of an insidious fantasy, a projected form that intuits the cynicism of human nature while Journey Into the Realm of Reason, Burning From the Inside and From Safety To Where…? expose the ambiguity of space–between knowledge and fiction and disorder and the Cartesian grid–distorted by unending vanishing landscapes. Perspective is used as a marker of spatial infinity, a visual reminder of the simultaneous existence of both a theoretical probability and physical impossibility, the antinomic dialectic between an optical glitch and mathematical certainty.

The Architect’s Tomb functions somewhere between sculpture and furniture and hints at the possibility of an intrinsically temporal dimension, a space that is internal and external in which nothingness eternally asserts itself as a permanent unknown. Light becomes a hypothesis of suspended physical transformation where mass and energy collapse, imposing a new, more solid and immanent objectuality, an entombed immobility of a future that is both present and past.

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Filed under Drawing/Works on Paper, Future Living Projects, Minimalism Elite, Painting, Sculpture, Small Scale Model

The Pleasure of Deceit

Yesterday I finished the painting The Pleasure of Deceit. It is 36″x48″ and is made with a gray acrylic latex background and green gouache.I started by drawing the image first and projecting it onto the canvas and marking all of my corners and intersections. I used a ruler to make my lines and then used very thin tape to mask out the white lines that make up the object; I usually don’t use tape to make my lines because it leaves a raised edge that I don’t like, which is what happened here, but time was of the essence as they say. I back painted over my tape with white paint and then rolled gray paint over the whole painting. After it dried I pulled off the tape, filled in any areas where the grey paint bled into my lines and then painted my green gouache over the white. I couldn’t get the blurring effect that I wanted between the acrylic latex and the gouache so I ended up using water to thin out my edges and I allowed some of the green residue to remain on the grey background which created a glowing effect.  I originally planned for the image to be the other way around but I found that when I flipped it my eyes wanted to switch the perspective of the object which is what I had initially intended for the piece. I made the painting because there was a space at the back of the gallery that needed to be filled and I wanted to make a painting that incorporated the painting techniques that I used for Burning From the Inside and From Safety To Where…? and the optical illusions that I was dealing with in the series Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled. The image is taken from a section of A Theory of Forms and Ideas Isometric Perspective Pen and Ink Drawing #17.

The Pleasure of Deceit

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Way Out Gallery

Yesterday I installed at a gallery up in Rensselaerville called Way Out Gallery that will be showing from September 27th to October 12th. The curators came to see my studio about 8 months ago and they liked the A Theory of Forms and Ideas Small Scale Sculptures and the gouache paintings and some of the other minimal work that I had been working on so I decided to center the show exclusively on a minimalist aesthetic, combining work from both Future Living Projects and Minimalism Elite. I knew right away that I wanted to show The Architect’s Tomb, Journey Into the Realm of Reason and From Safety To Where…? since I had never shown them before and was excited for the opportunity to exhibit them together. I decided that I wanted to remake Burning From the Inside but make it the same size as From Safety To Where…? and using the same gouache and acrylic latex technique. I destroyed the first Burning From the Inside when I moved from my studio in Brooklyn because of dark spots that showed up after I varnished it which for me ruined the flatness of the surface. I also wasn’t happy with the hard edges or the plastic feeling that you get from acrylics.

I decided also to make another new painting for the back wall that is approximately 3’x4′ called The Pleasure of Deceit. The image comes from a section of one of the isometric perspective pen drawings from A Theory of Forms and Ideas series. I was originally interested in making a painting that used the same distortion of optical perspective as the Opposition and Sister Squares Are Reconciled Pen and Ink Drawings but settled on an image that, although I thought only partly created the illusion I was looking for, was nonetheless more interesting.  I was originally going to make it black and white so that the only color in the show would be Journey Into the Realm of Reason but I decided that wanted it to have a specific color combination and to sacrifice the original concept for the show in favor of making a better and more interesting painting. I actually haven’t finished the painting yet and I plan on finishing it and installing it right before the opening.

I’ve been working on some statements for each piece and I’m calling the show Future Perfect which means “of or designating a verb tense or form indicating that the action or state expressed by the verb will be completed by or extended up to a time in the future.” I’ve been having a difficult time creating a context for putting Minimalism Elite and Future Living Project’s together so I think that it will be easier to just say that they’re from 2 separate but aesthetically related projects. Burning from the Inside and From Safety To Where…? actually exist in both projects.

Below are some photos of the show at the end of the installation. I framed all of the A Theory of Forms and Ideas Gouache Paintings individually and installed them so that 16 were on one wall and 8 were on the other. Ten of the A Theory of Forms and Ideas Small Scale Sculptures were installed in the middle of the gallery on 3 pedestals. I also decided early on to not install anything above The Architect’s Tomb to give it space and the curators snuck in one panel from the ICB series which I brought as an alternate for one of the walls. It turns out that it yellowed and the blue pen has started to fade but we hung it up anyway. At the bottom is a computer simulation of what The Pleasure of Deceit will look like.1 2 3 4The Pleasure of Deceit

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Filed under Drawing/Works on Paper, Future Living Projects, Minimalism Elite, Painting, Sculpture, Small Scale Model

A Theory of Progress, 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair and Penn Hills Resort

My friend Glen contacted me a couple of weeks ago and told me that he had been watching a documentary on the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair and had noticed that the lights from the fair were the same as the lights that I used for the basis for A History of Progress sculpture; Glen and I had first seen the lights at a small hotel in the Catskills while on a snowboarding trip. I always enjoy looking at World’s Fair memorabilia and architecture and after doing some more research I found out some interesting things about the luminaries. They were originally built by Westinghouse and they came in 76 modular configurations, from only four cubes per post to as many as 16, in vibrant colors like red, yellow, violet, coral, olive green, and chartreuse, according to renderings and fair brochures. Each translucent 16″ panel fit into a metal framework, and below them was a sound speaker.

It seems that the lights were sold off after the fair ended and it turns out that some of them ended up at a small honeymoon resort in the Poconos where I grew up called Penn Hills Resort. The resort was on a back road on the way up to Pocono Mountain and in the 1980’s was a decrepit reminder of 1970’s sleaze and romance. It reeked of sadness as if love had over the decades become kitsch. One time a friend and I even went to see another friend of ours do some bad stand up comedy with 2 or 3 hopeful honeymoon couples. Strangely enough I remember how both odd and nostalgic the feeling was of the place as if the promise of a better future had died and that the slowly decaying faux futuristic architectural was somehow symbolic of the failure of the Poconos. It’s doubly strange that I don’t specifically remember those lights but that 25 years later those same faded sun bleached lights, in a different place, would effect me in the same way and I would decide to make a sculpture from it. They say our mind never really forgets what it sees.

Below is a graph showing all of the different configurations of the lights, a photo of the lights at night at the World’s Fair, a photo of them de-installed, a photo of what they look like at Penn Hills and finally the small model that I made.

 sheet-20-original-graphicBN-BK213_NYLAMP_G_20140206155029BN-BK215_NYLAMP_G_20140206155030IMG_8747-copy-21A Theory of Progress Small Scale Model by Brian Higbee abd Future Living Projects


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