Short Artist Statement
Kevin L. O'Brien (kLoB)
I am a proponent of Pan-Global, Industrial, Supra-Expressionism which attempts to utilize materials from global industrial culture within works created as art (despite the fervent reactions to Neo- Expressionism and various other forms over the years, I need to incorporate it in my work, in a new way). The juxtaposition of the bold expressionistic strokes on the stark, bland industrial materials causes a good deal of tension. The bright colors used in the textures further differentiate the energy of the expressionistic strokes from the dullness of the main materials. I say Pan-Global because it is my belief that all cultures have been absorbed into the Industrialscape, in one way or another, and it is an artist's job to rediscover culture, and redeclare it boldly, without hesitation, using the new vocabulary they have been given, because there is no going backwards. It is "Supra" because an attempt is made to make the expressionistic content real, very real, by accentuating it's physical characteristics, texture and enhancing its 3D quality.
Reverence for the fine finished patinas that normally apply to art, as in art school or commercial art can be dispensed with for the boldness of an energy more sympathetic with rock and roll (e.g., jimi hendrix), r & b and/or jazz music (e.g., Coltrane). The high-power and energy of these musical expressions had a dramatic impact. Use of industrial materials in new combines (as influenced by Rauschenberg, et al.) further stressed new ideas of how materials might be combined. I also try to avoid creating a work that has that "finished", art-professional look, of which I am not fond. Instead, I developed a new primitive kind of "carpentry" skills to hold these materials together, and worrying about loose hanging edges, polish etc. was lost.
Of course, there was a new vocabulary of objects that needed to be created and new motifs that needed to be developed and depicted using this type of expression. My symbols were inspired by Klee, Dubuffet, children's art, the "early" people of many different lands. Of course, everyday objects depicted as in Pop were sucked into this imagery through the industrial-scape. I try to develop a symbol from pseudo-figurative state, along a continuum until it becomes my own. The symbols might be fashioned more in the brute manner of Dubuffet, young children or early cultures, as fit more with expressionistic force. But this work cannot be relegated as being "Art Brut", or stereotyped in a similar manner because of its continuous relevant innovation in industrialism. I try to break the energy of the subject into separate snippets that then fit back together in a manner that makes the whole clear!
The effects of Surrealism on my work helped break things up into new arrangements, pieces, relationships, even melding forms together. Its super-focus and startling sharpness helped provide a basis for the glistening effects I like to add to some works, as if glowing within an industrial subway, or a modern cave. The rearrangement of shape and form helped me to melt normal shapes into new forms, which could better be used to express their industrial energy.
I do not feel that use of the basic materials of painting has been exhausted, or that art now must explore new materials/media to be able to make a valid statement. New media often provides a false feeling of physical, conceptual innovation that ends up ringing hollow.
Finally, since, to me, the spiritual is directly self-evident, it is also present in my work. The political and socio-political world are foreign to my art. I do not believe that all forms of expressionistic endeavors are now meaningless.