Category Archives: Painting

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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Filed under Minimalism Elite, Painting

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 History of Progress, Violence and the Modern Spectacle: Crusade Against Communism, Sock Then Ask (Basil Gordon Being Beaten For Refusing To Tell Fellow Auto Workers Whether He Was A Communist, July 1950

Here’s a new pixel painting that I started working on for the series A History of Progress, Violence and the Modern Spectacle. It shows an image from 1950 of Gordon Basel lying beaten on the ground by fellow auto workers for refusing to admit whether he was or wasn’t a communist. The image is particularly brutal and echoes the paranoia of 1950’s McCarthyism which aimed to root out communism and destroy the unions and their ability to protect the middle class. This also paved the way for neoliberalism and the inevitable rise of the corporate elite which has plagued the American democratic process ever since. Interestingly I found this image in the book The Fifties and couldn’t find an image of it on the internet.

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 9.30.25 PM

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Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Painting

A History of Progress, Violence and the Modern Spectacle: Birmingham, Alabama May 1963

Here’s a new painting that I started last December and finished sometime in January. It’s part of the painting series A History of Progress, Violence and the Modern Spectacle. This one shows a pixilated photo of police officers using dogs on protesters in Birmingham, Alabama during the American Civil Rights Movement. The photo was originally taken by Charles Moore, a photojournalist from Alabama who also later cover the Vietnam War.

I thought it was important to add a fifth painting to this series in order to create a situation where an infinite amount of images could be added over time. I usually like to create closed systems for my series where a set number of pieces is pre-established in order to avoid redundancy; I thought that the subject matter of this series warranted unlimited possibilities for exploration and wanted the option to add to it over time.

This photo is actually doctored. I took the photo with a green background, cropped it and superimposed it over another pixel painting so that it has shadows and looks like it’s hanging on the wall. I also rounded the corners a little because paintings don’t have sharp corners, at least not ones that use canvas.

Civil Rights Pixel Painting

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Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Painting

A History of Progress, Violence and the Modern Spectacle New Painting

Here is a new pixel painting that I started working on. It’s part of the A History of Progress, Violence and the Modern Spectacle series. This one shows an incident from the civil rights movement in which the police used dogs to attack protestors. I was hoping to finish it and submit it for a show about Rosa Parks. This particular image is a mock up that I made by manipulating the photo to make it look pixelated and super-imposing it over another painting so that it has a shadow and looks like it’s hanging on a wall.

Civil Rights Painting2

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Ross Bleckner: Examined Life Writings 1972-2007

I recently finished a small book of Ross Bleckner‘s writings called Examined Life: Writings 1972-2007. I have always like Ross Bleckner’s paintings and was curious to know what he had to say about his process and his general philosophy behind his painting practice. I get a sense from what he writes and talks about that he’s in a search for personal spirituality that is free from irony or humor and that his investigations into the materiality and alchemy of painting is both self-fulfilling and social. His work also explores memory, loss and change and he often uses symbology and abstraction to create intensely haunting and dark, moody paintings that are visually elusive yet strangely alluring.

Here are some good quotes from the book:

“I’m trying to introduce a certain kind of sentiment into my paintings without necessarily being sentimental. I would like to make paintings that are moving and touching, but I’m very suspicious of the ways they could be manipulating, or be cliches.”

“I’ve always thought that what is hidden (repressed) is as interesting, if not more so, than what is expressed; in as much as artists have a dialogue with an audience, they also have a dialogue with themselves.”

“Symbolist imagery is double-edged. It’s trick imagery. There’s a sense of theatricality that almost undermines any seriousness.”

“Pop Art is no longer the Pop Art of the sixties and seventies, which glorified and fetishizes product; Pop Art today, and the artists who are able to address in some way or another the cultural paradigm that shifted toward that sense of imminent loss and mortality during the eighties with the onset of the AIDS pandemic. Mortality became the new Pop Art.”

“Sometimes I hate this process that seems to make me feel I should be without friends, so that I can retreat and look around at my paintings and say,: “at least I will always have this.”

“I like somber paintings because through them we can feel the need for change.”


Filed under Books, Other Artists, Painting

Moving Studios

I’m moving next week after having my studio in the same space for 14 years. When I moved in it was a large warehouse space that was being subdivided and converted into live/work spaces in an industrial park in Brooklyn. I moved in sometime in September of 1999 and spent the winter living in a tent made out of plastic, sheets and boxes. I built the first part of the loft that winter and spent the next year building walls, running electricity, putting in gas lines, painting the floor and ceiling and fixing and replacing windows. We didn’t have a roof on the bathroom for several years which made showering in the winter very cold and it took almost ten years to build a proper kitchen which was made using my parents old kitchen. When I first moved in there was nobody living in our part of the neighborhood (we are next to sanitation) and  I used to pass packs of wild dogs on my walk back from the subway and on Monday mornings there would often be burnt out cars, relics from a weekend of thievery. After about 5 years we got a coffee shop and a little after that a restaurant. I noticed that more and more people were getting off at the same subway stop and then after 10 years out rent went up significantly because the area was popular for artists and people looking for more space. Then Bushwick Open Studios started and I realized that there were a lot of artists living around me. All of the empty warehouses that I used to look in at years earlier were now full of artists. If I moved I could no longer afford to stay in my own neighborhood. Then the Loft Law happened and I applied on behalf of our building which made me both a target for scorn and a savior of sorts since it kept us from being evicted by the NYFD which were constantly harassing us at the time. I am moving before the benefits of this law would apply to me but I’m doubtful that the building would would ever be able to legalize unfortunately since there’s a printing press on the first floor and a lot of chemicals polluting the air.

Anyway, part of this move involves getting rid of a lot of stuff including artwork that I didn’t think were successful or that I don’t think that I’ll ever show again. A lot of the work that got tossed were paintings from graduate school. Below is a list of artwork that made it into the trash bin:

ICB (Battleship)GE: We Bring Goods Things To Light, (OL), the two light paintings from All Memories Are Traces of Tears, The Wall, a painting of a drone, a painting of a mirrored bridge, The Problem of a Compounded Abstraction (The Field) and all of the landscape panels that I had in storage from Epicenter City and The Future Living Projects Planned Residential Development.

Here are some photos of my studio/apartment and the view out my window. I’ll miss this studio but I’m looking forward to the next one.IMG_2657 IMG_5347 IMG_4439IMG_5357

Empire State Building with the sun IMG_3065 IMG_5382 IMG_5387

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ICB is a series of work that I made in 2009 that I never wrote about or exhibited. The initial drawings were originally created  using a computer that had an old drawings program on it;the lines were randomly drawn across the screen and the computer program, through a preset, would either adhere to the grid or ignore it, creating a random pattern in the end. I experimented with different results  and made 4 of these (Untitled #1,#4,#5 and Battleship) which I printed out and saved thinking that I would like to do something with them in the future. One of these initial drawings was the basis for the painting ICB (Battleship) which was made using white acrylic latex and blue pen on canvas. I used joint compound on the surface of the canvas before painting it to create a smooth surface. This turned out to be a mistake because one of my cats walked across it and made crackly footprints on it which destroyed the surface. I made this painting again in 2011 but this time used blue gouache to make the lines and also used 2 different whites for the background. In 2009 I also decided to finish the series so I set out to try and reproduce similar results to what I had done in 2000. This was harder than I thought since computer programs had become more advanced over time. This meant that the computer was less likely to follow the grid so I had to redo many of them several times to get the results that I wanted. After I had 8 of them I decided that I had enough so I reproduced them on paper using a blue felt tip marker. Then I decided that I wanted to make them on panels so I bought eight 16″ wood panels. I sanded each one and used white spray paint to paint them. I used the same blue felt tip markers on these that I used for the other drawings and when I was done sprayed them with UVLS Matte Varnish to keep the sun from fading them.

I never showed this series anywhere. I had 2 of the panels hanging up in my studio and the sunlight faded them so they were destroyed. I gave a couple of them away. I liked the idea of this series and the idea of making art through glitches on a computer even though I forced some of the later results. This was also the first time that I ever made work directly on wood panels and I thought that it was successful for a first try. I was hoping that the final results would be quite and elegant but at the same time I wasn’t sure how abstraction fit in with the rest of my work and I found it difficult to try and promote;I didn’t have any other work that was like it. It eventually found a home with the Future Living Projects.

The title comes from a New Order song on the album Movement. The initials are rumored to mean Ian Curtis Buried but I didn’t know that at the time of making the painting or the drawings. Here are 2 composite shots, one of the drawings on paper and the other of the drawings on panels. Below that is the painting ICB (Battleship) which I plan on destroying since I don’t think that it was very successful as a painting.

ICB Untitled Drawing Composite ICB Untitled Drawings CompositeBattleship(3)

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Filed under Drawing/Works on Paper, Future Living Projects, Painting

From the Light Above at OK Harris Gallery

I’m exhibiting From the Light Above at a group show at the gallery OK Harris Works of Art this summer from June 1st to September 3rd. The show is called Illuminators and all the works deal with light as a subject matter. It’s obvious why they chose my painting for the show since it’s literally a painting of a light. I thought about showing them The Architect’s Tomb but the gallery mostly deals with “realism” so I didn’t think that they’d be interested but it turns out that they have some abstract light pieces in the show as well. I’ve never shown The Architect’s Tomb and I’ve shown From the Light Above a couple of times so I would have rather shown The Architect’s Tomb. Also From the Light Above is almost 4 years old but that’s Ok, I’m just not that excited about it.  Here’s an updated statement that I wrote for it and an image of it.

From the Light Above represents one of mankind’s greatest inventions-light-and delivers it in one of its cheapest and most efficient forms: fluorescent. It is painted using the traditional techniques of under-painting and blocking. A thin wash of ultramarine blue gives the background a slight tone and helps create a rich, black surface. The light itself is blocked out with white acrylic paint, creating an almost pure white light in the finished painting.

From the Light Above by Brian Higbeeillumleft illumright

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Associated Artists for Propaganda Research presents: Corporate Utopia/Corporate Control

So after testing out the potential for the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research in Corporate Identity: The Public Relations Industry and Other Post-Capitalist Concerns , I decided to continue with my plans to further explore the AAPR for my MFA thesis show. I had been doing a lot of reading on post-modern philosophy and had based my thesis paper on an experimental application of some of these theories;this includes an interest in meaning/surface context shifting and the instability of information systems as concrete knowns. I thought about the appropriation of these theories for my own work and imagined the possibilities of re-working these instabilities into an even more complex system for my own artistic purposes. I envisioned the AAPR utilizing a complex combination of language aesthetics, an open and limitless mixture of techniques and forms that could be interchangeable and malleable. I also wanted to undermine art and the elitism that produced a hierarchical structure for what was and what wasn’t important in the discussion of art theory and felt that I was utilizing the AAPR to break free of arts’ capitalist tendencies which strive for the development and promotion of sellable products for personal gain. I  hoped to ultimately develop a new aesthetic based purely on a complexity of ideas and not on a well-defined recognizable and personal style.

Aesthetically, I wanted to treat the AAPR as an organization that could mimic the structuring utilized by corporations as well as using the aesthetics of punk and social sub cultures within a formal art context. I didn’t want any rules other than the rules that would dictate a contextual conclusion in and of itself both formally and conceptually according to what I wanted the AAPR to represent. I hoped for the collapse of high and low art into a single entity where their meanings were constantly in flux and shifted depending on the context of their use. What I really wanted was total freedom to have an excuse to make anything art.

One of my main interests had to do with duality and the power of combining opposites to create new meaning. One of the earliest sketches for the project shows a separation between what is “ideal” and what is “idea” so I decided that my exhibition would consist of 2 separate rooms, one which would be a “display” room and one that would be a “back” room, each a representation of one of these ideas. One of the earliest problems that I came across in the museum was a small wall that the museum director claimed couldn’t be moved. (I later found out that it was moveable and the same gallery director who lied to me years later was caught stealing from the museum and sent to jail for a year.) Instead of complaining further about it I designed my 2 rooms so that they would enclose the “unmovable” wall, making it invisible to the viewer but rendering it usable for me. I built one enclosed room on one side of the “unmovable” wall out of metal studs and sheet rock and put in a low ceiling to make it feel smaller and more intimate. In this room I built shelves and a cheap table for all of the things that I planned on putting in there. I brought in a ton of stuff from my studio including lots of books, sketches, photographs, VHS tapes and other materials that helped make it feel like a working studio. I also had a monitor in there which showed a live black and white image of what was happening in the front room.

On the other side of the “unmovable” wall I built another wall which together made the “display” room. I used the same white desk from the Corporate Identity show and took off the INFORMATION signage that I painted on it. I made 4 display cases out of wood to hang on the walls, painted them white and had glass tops made for them. In these I placed a series of various unmade parts from a plastic model kit of the “Big Foot” monster truck. I spray painted these flat black and laid them out symmetrically so that they looked like display cases that one sees in exhibitions of butterflies or insects. I had a fully made “Big Foot”model that I also spray painted flat black in the back room on the working table. I called the finished Big Foot model “The Big One” after a Michael Moore movie which was about the U.S. and it’s assumed proclivity towards world domination; I thought of the “Big Foot” monster truck as a metaphor for the over-scaled macho power of U.S. policy and used the unbuilt model parts in the “showroom” as a loose symbol of propaganda and the way information is purposefully obfuscated  to benefit the powerful and the rich. On the back wall I painted a large dull landscape that I thought would, once again, subjugate painting to a lower form of expression.

Here are some images from the show. The last image was the postcard for the show and is a blurred image of a sheep. At the time the first cloned sheep Dolly was in the news and I thought of it as both a symbol of the potential of human science in its most horrific and promising forms, and as an image of society’s willingness to be brainwashed into believing the propaganda of the corporate mass media.


corporateutopiacorporateutopia6 corporateutopia2 corporateutopia5truckUntitled-69

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Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Drawing/Works on Paper, Painting, Sculpture, Small Scale Model