Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Brendan McCumstie’s “Me, My, Myth” : Beijing - April 7 - May 10, 2015

Beijing-based Australian artist Brendan McCumstie opens his solo exhibition of mind bending paintings – Me, My, Myth – in Beijing, China on April 7 at the EscapeSpace Gallery.

The paintings are other-worldly and rveolve around lunar landscapes, angelic children seemingly caught and in a time-space continuum.  Me, My, Myth will be view until May 10th.

Me, My, Myth features more than a dozen new paintings and sculptures produced this year by McCumstie. The exhibition also includes a shadow installation and will be supported by archival material and collage works from the artist’s studio, highlighting his continued ability to invent works at the border between reality and the world of dreams.

“Brendan McCumstie invites us to take an exploratory journey," says Gallery director, Steven Sampliner.  "It is a journey we are all oddly familiar with. We are presented with art works that allows us to view separation and union simultaneously. They are wonderfully strange, and endlessly intriguing.”

Born in 1973 in Australia, Brendan McCumstie spent the past three years living and working in both Paris and Beijing, enabling him to research the history of art from both sides of the globe, and place his own work within this expansive geo-political-social art-historical frame.

The results of McCumstie's on-going aesthetic research and practice chronicles the origin, meaning and ultimate changing of some unknown entity over time, be it a person, an idea, a country or a philosophy.

Brendan McCumstie : On Me, My, Myth

Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time, while Entomology is a unique process in which you can preserve the original look of the bug species of your choosing.

The paintings bring to mind the ouroboros – the tail-eating snake of history and mythology. Like the symbol of eternity given by the encircled serpent these works can be seen as a cyclical narrative of the origin, form, meaning and ultimate changing of some unknown entity – be it a person, an idea, a country or a philosophy. Which unique entity the viewer decides to choose and preserve in his or her own thoughts is up to the individual.

These are artworks that attempt to formalize dreams of plenty, fears of loss and reflections on a life; an idea of what it is like to collect, order and enshrine the chaos of memory and imagination into something that resembles verisimilitude.

Indecipherable Peace, 120 x 80 cm, 2015; oil on linen.

Intentionally attempting to undermine the alleged inability of a painted two-dimensional surface to portray movement, these strict compositions endeavor to control the imaginary world and entrap it within the visual physical world.

Gertrude Stein quipped that things are either worthless or priceless - I do not desire these works to be pinned up like a dead butterfly to be admired but not investigated. I wish them to be a doorway to another realm; a space where the question posed leads the viewer to areas that they might not have gone alone.
Brendan McCumstie Interviewed by Steven Sampliner 

When are you most productive?

The most productive period for me is night, when the streets go quiet, the moon rises and the darkness enshrines. I see that internalizing essence coming out within the paintings and works I produce.

Why China? Why Beijing?

I had been living in Paris previously, and whilst I love that city there were a number of considerations that brought me to Beijing.

Firstly the fact that Paris requires artists to be extremely well established before giving them an opportunity, and secondly the fact that to be truly rounded as an artist I believed it was necessary to investigate and appreciate the “eastern” aspects of fine art as much as the “western” canon.
I think “East” and “west” are merely atrophied vestigial labels in the contemporary art sphere, but it still exists as a division within the history of art, and that is what I am interested in just as much.
So, with the available options in front of me, Beijing was the obvious choice in terms of accessing a grand history and tradition stretching back millennia. To be a part of its current productive base is an amazing opportunity.

You often wear a tailored 3-piece suit, is it a necessity or a choice?

If you are going to do good work, then you must look and feel good. I enjoy dressing the part – even when creating a piece of work. There is something reinforcing about wearing a quality garment when producing a painting or sculpture. I find it a solemnizing act.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Daily life. The intentionally restricted colour palette in this series of paintings is derived from what I see each and every day in Beijing. I am bringing my eye to what surrounds me.

I feel sometimes that I am some extraterrestrial within a vast alien landscape, nevertheless, sometimes it is easier to see the earth from an alien perspective and, seen from the moon, we are all just artists and audience.

 A Reinvention of Greek Tragedy, 2015, oil on linen, 100 x 80 cm.

It seems that a lot of your works have a mysterious element, like an unsolved puzzle left for the viewer to solve – both the viewers within the paintings and also the viewers in front of the paintings.

My constant battle is to open enough of a window in the artwork, to allow anyone to universally understand the possibilities inherent within the work as it relates to them   on an individual basis.

Would you produce different art if you weren’t in China?

Anyone who is not influenced by his or her surroundings is possibly ignorant, immune or insulated. All three are, I believe, sad options to be avoided at all cost. As both an artist and viewer/observer it is impossible for me to prevent the tendrils extending from what exists around me to attach them selves to me. So of course my art would be developing in a different manner if I existed outside China, but the works I am producing, I believe still have a universality to them that works across cultures.

Have you ever done any portraits?

No, but I would like to try some commissions, and I have a very dear friend whom I intend to do a portrait of this year - an amazing indigenous Australian woman, who is so strong and doing fanastic things for her people and country. I admire anyone who has that drive.

Is art the creator of social change or merely a reaction to it?

I think art has the opportunity and obligation to be both. These current works also act as an observation of social change too.

Do you believe art to be a subject or an object?

I think that the object is the subject, irrespective of what that object is.

For information, catalog, contact: Steven Sampliner... Web:  
Tel: +86 15901537357  Email:   Brendan McCumstie web site

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