In the studio with Noah Becker

I was much older then…” he explains, referring to a solemn photo of himself from a few years back. “I’m growing younger and younger with every year that goes by” he laughs. And such was the nature of our entire studio visit with artist Noah Becker: generously candid and subtly dynamic.

The Collector's Ranch, 2017 acrylic on canvas 40" x 30"

The Collector's Ranch, 2017
acrylic on canvas
40" x 30"

Becker operates on a multidisciplinary level: he is a painter, a jazz musician, and the founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. Our time together was spent immersed in Becker’s work as an artist, and ultimately, his discussion of painting acted as a conduit for explaining his other diversified pursuits. With an abundance of paintings on-hand and the even greater number on-file, he took us on a tour of his ever-evolving trajectory as an image maker.

Noah Becker's art studio

Noah Becker's art studio

Becker’s work might be looked at in phases. Most current (in fact, still in progress) is a moody model-based portraiture project. Go back to the 2016 election, and Becker has a number of hybrid collage/paintings that deal with media over-saturation. These pseudo pop political works simultaneously reference art history while interacting with the present cultural moment. Displayed on the wall is yet another chapter of work, a group of populated surreal landscapes. They are built up with collected images— from eBay tchotchkes to the Unabomber shack. Becker shows us archives of playful portraits painted of British hair models. There are also a number textual paintings, words spelled out in balloon font. Self-portraiture too, reoccurs in the artist’s repertoire. A pattern of diversification again begins to emerge: Becker explores an idea, works through it, and then switches gears. Until, within the broader context of Becker’s career, the trends of his idiosyncratic image selection begin to reveal themselves. 

Cookie, 2013 oil on canvas 30” x 30"

Cookie, 2013
oil on canvas
30” x 30"

Yipes, 2016 oil on panel 16" x 20"

Yipes, 2016
oil on panel
16" x 20"

Sort of, 2016 oil and acrylic on canvas 20" x 24"

Sort of, 2016
oil and acrylic on canvas
20" x 24"

Noah Becker's art studio 

Noah Becker's art studio 

Written by Janna Alfred

Mark Warren Jacques and the vices of man.

In Mark Warren Jacques' upcoming exhibition opening this January 2017, the artist explores a new narrative, calling it Man's Ruin. While maintaining the complex, geometric abstractions that are representative of his signature style, the new series of paintings depict sex, drugs and power, the vices tempting to man.

Mark Warren Jacques "Power" acrylic on canvas

Mark Warren Jacques
acrylic on canvas

As our pal Howard Hurst wrote, "It is easy to see their relationship to the occult geometries of Charmion Von Wygond, or the tumultuous, semi textual abstractions of American Modernist Stuart Davis. Panes of iridescent color collide, warp into explosions of delicate line, and trapes across fields of color. Anthropomorphic shapes seem to convey a helter skelter optimism that allows one to feel the sublime in little idiosyncratic bursts. It is easy to recognize this same potent strand of whimsy one finds while staring at the humbling scale of a desert landscape. Jacques’ great strength is his ability to shift that gaze into a knowing wink. His paintings become like personal talismans. Similar to the symbols painted so commonly on Amish barns in his native Ohio they convey a homegrown kind of magic."

Mark Warren Jacques “Two Beautiful Booties” acrylic on canvas

Mark Warren Jacques
“Two Beautiful Booties”
acrylic on canvas

Mark Warren Jacques “All Night Every Day” installation

Mark Warren Jacques
“All Night Every Day” installation

Artist Interview: Michelle Blade

For Michelle Blade’s solo exhibition, 'Gentle Existential', our lovely gallery assistant, Janna Alfred, asked a few questions about the artist’s personal mythology, her feminine voice within the artists’ painting practice, and overall inspirations in creating this newest body of work.

Janna Alfred: Where does the quote that you begin the exhibition statement come from? Was that your dream? 

Michelle Blade: The quote is a text I wrote about a dream I had. I usually hesitate over putting words to my work and I wait to the last minute when writing statements, but when I had the dream I describe in the quote it was the literal piece I needed that pull everything together. The concept of gestalt, that parts do not make the whole, reminded me that being human is not a summary of our experiences but something else all together.

Why Can’t I Touch it? / Mirroring, 2016 Ceramic

Why Can’t I Touch it? Mirroring, 2016

JA: Your work seems to be openly feminine. Do you find this to be an essential element to your practice, or is it more a side effect of your particular methods of creating?

MB: Openly portraying a feminine voice within my painting practice has been something I’ve grown into, it hasn’t always been present. Within this show it was a conscious decision to bring a more personal, symbolic narrative to the work. For years I’ve made paintings inspired by the Romantic era. Artists like Caspar David Friedrich who were notorious for impressing their psychological state onto the landscapes they were depicting, created a heightened and very masculine atmosphere. For the work within Gentle Existential I wanted to take a different approach and create a body of work inspired by the empath, a person who soaks up the emotional environment around them and internalizes it.

At this point in my practice it feels natural and necessary to weave in personal symbolic elements after I have been working with themes of the communal for so long. Making paintings has always been the framework for how I interpret the world around me and so it’s essential to follow where it leads me if I want to sustain a curious, evolving and sustainable practice over the course of my life.  

Big Creatures, 2016 Acrylic ink on canvas 4x5'

Big Creatures, 2016
Acrylic ink on canvas

JA: When exploring your work, one can find ideas from psychology, philosophy, astrology, personal mythology and tarotology, amongst other schools of thought. How often do you come across other creatives and thinkers who are using similar and overlapping vernaculars? Do you feel like you have a community of people who think and work in ways cousin to your own?

MB: I do have a lovely community of curious thinkers and makers in my life. We overlap with some shared interests, but each person has their unique wheelhouse they bring to the table. Obsessions are shared, exchanged and adapted at times, which is one of the best perks of having a nourishing community. I think our mutual ambition and dedication to having a creative life is what ties us together most. Friendship between artists can be like an amazing support group for people that have chosen a hard road. We champion and remind each other of the magic in what we have chosen, which is a great thing to see embodied in a friend.

Drifting, 2016 Acrylic ink on canvas 4x5'

Drifting, 2016
Acrylic ink on canvas

JA: How much is spirituality a part of your art practice? Has it always been that way?

MB: I’ve always been drawn to spirituality and learning about its numerous forms. I think it’s amazing the multitude of stories that have been created by humans to attempt to define the mysteries of existence and essentially marginalize our consciousness. It’s bittersweet. Within my work I try my best to present an image that does not claim facts but constantly skirts these spiritual territories, essentially depicting a space that is frozen at the apex of all those worlds; a world that is meaningless and also one chock full of mystery and absurdities.

The Los Angeles Coyote, 2016 Ceramic

The Los Angeles Coyote, 2016

JA: You have included Joan Brown’s name in the title of one of your paintings. Has she been particularly influential to you as an artist? If so, how?

MB: Recently her work and her life story has made an impression on me. Joan Brown and I in the Sun Room at Night, the painting you are referencing, is about trying to identify with some of the roles she played in her life as a mother, a spiritual being, a partner and a devote figurative artist. It’s challenging being a woman and a mother working in this field and I’m constantly searching for role models, especially female figurative painters, to help guide me.  Joan Brown did it with grace and dedication and I wanted to pay homage to that.

Joan Brown and I in the Sun Room at Night, 2016 Acrylic ink on canvas 6x5’

Joan Brown and I in the Sun Room at Night, 2016
Acrylic ink on canvas

Press on Erin M. Riley's solo exhibition

Selfish Press in Fjords Review

Extremely thoughtful review by Heather Zises in today's Fjord Review. 

“With this show, I very much wanted to inspire introspection in other people. SELFISH is really about the existential significance of self-portraiture. This show is not meant to be a spectacle. At its core, it is more of an exercise piece where the viewer looks at the art on the walls and then starts to look within themselves.” - Akeem Duncan, SELFISH Curator

Currently on view at Brilliant Champions is “SELFISH”, a group show featuring a collection of self-portraits. Organized by guest curator Akeem Duncan of Quiet Lunch, the exhibition explores the existential significance of self-portraiture and the role it plays in an artist’s practice. By focusing upon the intimate and inward process of the self-portrait, the exhibition extends far beyond the superficial realms of the selfie.

Artist Interview: Nick Jaskey

We interviewed Nick Jaskey, artist living and working in Detroit. His work is motivated by a decade of writing graffiti and photography. We first came across his paintings in one of our collectors homes in Manhattan. The clean, process driven paintings led to many conversations with the artist about his new collection. We are delighted to have some of those works in STICKS & STONES on exhibit this month at Brilliant Champions Gallery, opening Friday, Feb 19th. 

What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them? 
Time is the biggest challenge, I'm still working a job and that takes up most of my days so I have nights and weekends to paint. 

Do you have an art studio? If so, what does having a physical space to make art in mean for your process, and how do you make your space work for you?
I've had several different spaces over the years. For me I like a space close to home but not in the house. When I want to start working it’s something I want to do immediately and having a long commute to a studio can stunt the creative process. Fortunately I live in a new place with a garage I'm currently working on turning into a studio so I can walk out my back door and have everything I need right there. 

Do you see your work as relating to any current movement or direction in visual art or culture? 
I want the paintings to look current but also have a timeless feel, I'm taking inspiration from a unique place and time so I would hope it's its own thing.



How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?
I strive to create abstractions that bring the viewer into a visually pleasing environment open to interpretation. The paintings I make are hard-edge color studies that focus on balance and composition. 

What mediums do you work with? 
House paint and film. 

How does your personal history work its way into your practice?
I grew up writing graffiti and skateboarding, so always being in the street really plays into my work. Spending years continuing to search for new areas of the city really developed my eye for detail and I think that reads in my current work with fine art. 

What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
I'm inspired by color and natural abstraction that I see around Detroit. I'm also listening to a lot of early electronic music out of the city, so there is a futuristic mad scientist vibe creeping in there too. 

Artist Interview: Damien Hoar de Galvan

This week we interviewed artist, Damien Hoar de Galvan, as we prepare for the STICKS & STONES exhibition opening this Friday, Feb. 19th at Brilliant Champions Gallery. Damien lives and works in Boston, MA and makes wonderfully crafted sculptures. We met up with him in Brooklyn and had the pleasure of getting to know him and his work a little better. 

How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

- I make smallish in scale abstract wooden sculptures.  I work in a very process based, intuitive way. Often as I’m making them I think I am weighing formal concerns over concepts or messages. Humor is important to the pieces, I want them to be funny along with happy and slightly off kilter. I guess they are emotionally informed, maybe a bit perverse or awkward too.

For the folks unfamiliar with your work, what mediums do you work with?

- I mainly work with wood. As often as it can be it is recycled or “found”, I do my best not to buy materials (besides paint, glue, screws etc.). These days most of the materials I use are building materials. I recently renovated my house so most of the sculptures are built from a combination of stuff from the demolition and then scraps from the rebuilding.

How does your personal history work its way into your practice?

- Both my parents are artistic, creative people which I think was influential. My father worked in the world of labor/building and so I grew up seeing tools, materials and how they are used. I was always attracted to the arts but didn’t really figure out I could do something in them until sometime in college. When I found painting I realized I really didn’t have a plan to do anything with my life and that I would try and be an artist. It’s been at least 15 years since then and I’m still trying...

What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?

- I listen to a lot of podcast’s while I’m working. Mostly comedy one’s, I guess I love listening to people engaged in conversation. I think hearing people talk about things they are interested in is very….helpful? I don’t talk to many people during the day so maybe I’m making up for that too? My teenage self would also be very disappointed in the fact that I’ve also been listening to a lot of Grateful Dead.  I think it may have something to do with the length of the songs and the kind of consistent tone or feeling I get from that type of music, it helps on long days alone. And then of course there’s social media. I look at my phone a lot, Instagram is great for art in a lot of ways I think. Sometimes I look at my work which is generally made up of little bits of material glued together as physical manifestations of a Facebook or Twitter feed, but just as often I think that’s a rather stupid idea...

Does your work plays with functionality or form? Can you tell us more about how you integrate either into your work?

- Not so much functionality right now. In some of my earlier sculptures there was the question of what is this thing and what does it do? I’m not too concerned with that anymore. I suppose form is still very important, I make “art” objects now.

Do you have an art studio? If so, what does having a physical space to make art in mean for your process, and how do you make your space work for you?

- Currently I don’t really. I had studios in Boston for over 10 years but moved to the suburbs in 2014 so since then I work from home. I haven’t really set up a proper work space, I usually do the cutting in the basement or garage and then the rest of the work in the kitchen or living room. I think my wife will soon force me into a proper studio….

Do you see your work as relating to any current movement or direction in visual art or culture?

- Not really. I think that’s maybe more a question for the viewer?

Besides your art practice, are you involved in any other kind of work?

- I have an almost 6 yr. old daughter which is one of my jobs.  Sometimes I do art handling at museums or galleries or for my wife who is an interior designer.

Do you have a motto?

- “I don’t know” is probably as close to a motto as I have, it’s my answer for most of life.

We're open!

Brilliant Champions, will officially open its new location at 5 Central Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11206 on December 10th, 2015, with an inaugural exhibition of new works from Brooklyn based artists Kimia Ferdowsi Kline, Derek Weisberg, and Matthew Craven. “Tomorrow’s Today” is a multi-dimensional exhibition of sculpture, mixed media, and paintings inspired by the maker’s unique connection and abstraction of history.