There's virtual reality, there's actual reality, and then there are the paintings of Brian Willmont.
The current state of our ever-digitized reality blurs the lines between the actual and the virtual. In Brian Willmont’s most recent solo show, Chaos and Wild Again, at Brooklyn gallery Victori + MO, he reflects on our shift towards a purely digital culture with abstracted graphic works that reference a Pop-purloined aesthetic tenet central to the Internet Age.
“Our current digital reality has changed us completely,” Willmont explains to The Creators Project. “Our attention, hearts, and libido are in the cloud, it’s ubiquitous and we’re in lust with it.” He continues, “My process has included more of a digital influence where there is a back and forth from analog painting to digital manipulations and back again.”
Willmont explores the ways in which we are consumed by the digital presentation of our phones, computers and media sources, all on digital dimensions, screens. “My digital curiosity comes out of my interest in screens. Physical screens hide, they obscure, they allure, they open and close, allow for new perspectives, allowing for shifts in reality,” Willmont expresses. “They function as masks, allowing the wearer—or whatever is behind the screen—to take on a new meaning and gain control over their perception."
“For Chaos and Wild Again, I used symbols of love, desire, and advertising to create a plasti-saccharine-hallucinatory dreamscape,” Willmont tells The Creators Project, “There are only four pieces in the show. One is a panel in the shape of a rose blossom. The rose is rendered in an eerie blue which is an inversion of the color of a pink rose and is shifting out of the frame while the surface is covered in trompe l’oeil water droplets.” He continues, “The second is a wall covered in wallpaper in which two paintings are hung on top. The wallpaper is a digital pattern created by extending the marks of the two paintings out to the edges of the wall.
“The third is a painting of a field of poppies where like the wallpaper, the image is made by repeating aspects of another painting I made a year ago to create something pluralistic out of the singular. The fourth piece is a little painting of a rose bush where rough gestural lines contrast sharply with a digitally influenced color fade and more trompe l’oeil water droplets.”
While heavily referencing the digital age and media, Willmont’s imagery also has an almost-nostalgic feel to it, cross-referencing a time before technology. Of his process, he tells The Creators Project, “The aesthetic of the airbrush in its classic use is synonymous with a vintage representation of the future which I’m definitely exploiting. I think this, mixed with a sappy sentimentality, gives the work a nostalgic feel.”
As Willmont’s work is continuously evolving, a consistent thread that has maintained is an underlying reference to our natural environment. Willmont explains, “In this work it’s more about human nature than mother nature.” He continues, “In the paintings these symbols become decorative and overwhelming representations of longing. An emptiness that attracts love, sex, drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, social media, TV etc., and is ruled by emotion and dopamine hits.”
The impact of Willmont’s show has been felt during the exhibition over the course of the past couple of weeks. He tells us, “I brought some of my family to see the show, and when it came up that the work was for sale, my five-year-old niece burst into tears and asked how I could let go of such beautiful things. It was such a sweet moment of honest purity that only comes from kids or drugs.”
Chaos and Wild Again will be on display at Victori + MO through March 27, 2016.
Click here to visit Brian Willmont's website.