BRIAN KEITH STEPHENS, Hugo Galerie, (04 SEPTEMBER – 01 OCTOBER 2017)

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How to capture the past, present and future at the same time; this is at the center of my work as an artist and as a father, son, friend and lover. As we navigating our daily lives, we must face thoughts, anxieties, joys and emotions from all three of these tenses, and often at the same time. Seemingly opposite emotions — lust, hatred, desire, love, pride, inhibition — exists simultaneously between these moments in time. For some of us, some emotions out weigh others, grabbing our attention and transfixing our minds, sometimes taking over the way we live and breath. For myself, the emotions that occupy my mind and capture my energy are that of love, desire, and the fear of hurt or disappointment. And so, at the center of my work are these forceful emotions–they guide my hand to paint and my heart and mind to live. My work explores the emotions that guide us, that pull us and push us and ultimately define who we are, in relation to others and to ourselves.

Lately, what I have been most interested in capturing is how alternative perceptions of ones identity can affect these daily emotions. My work speaks to this in two mediums: oil paintings and collage/installation. With the first medium, I do this primarily through mystical imagery juxtaposed with figurative technique. I am using oil paints to create this mystical alter-reality where the human is the animal and the animal is the human.

I am captivated by the power of my own emotions, the playful desires and the sometimes dangerous energy that is the essence of the human spirit. We love, we hurt, we laugh and we cry — it’s this fantastic and sometimes frightful spectrum. The ‘contemporary soldier’, a motif represented in my work through oil on canvas, is my own conception of this power we have to love and to hurt, to build and to break. For me the contemporary soldier is child freed from the gaze of the parent or society, it is the spirit, freed. But also faced with the challenge of the future, even as it moves freely from its past.

At the center of my work and life are these fascinations with myth, the spectrum of human passion, our kinship to the spirit of the wild animal, and challenge of balancing the real with the fanciful. We must balance all of this while also navigating the spectrum of time, the web of past, present and future. My art has been and continues to be my outlet for exploring these themes and conjuring up new ones.

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