May 19 – June 23, 2012
Western Project is proud to present the first major Los Angeles exhibition of works by Brian Porray. Now a resident of Claremont, California, the artist paints and collages large-scale works influenced by his twenty-plus years on the neon streets of Las Vegas:
This work is sort of like the psychedelic memory of a psychedelic memory. All of these pieces are focused solely on the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas, an enormous black pyramid shaped mega-resort that was built during my first year of high school. Since I wasn’t old enough to party on The Strip, my experience of Las Vegas at night was as a neon backdrop for chemically enhanced desert parties. I vaguely remember standing in the dirt staring up at the beam of light shooting out of the Luxor’s peak – – after a minute my eyes adjusted and I could almost make out what looked like huge black bats swarming around the top of the pyramid. The light didn’t dissolve the way a flashlight does – it was so much brighter. It felt solid, like I could climb up through it. I hadn’t really looked at the light until that night, and I remember being terrified – – psychologically it totally fucked me up.
The Luxor and its beacon are central themes in this body of work as a point of conceptual origin; the triangle is the basic unit of formal organization and composition. In the 1990’s the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas was seen as a premier example of post-modern architecture; the black glass pyramid intentionally recalling the history of other desert pyramids. As pure architectural artifice on the Vegas Strip, the Luxor created an ominous, but transformational experience for the artist.
–(\DARKHOR5E/)– is a convoluted universe of spaces/atmospheres/images; conversely, made with economic means: painted, drawn, slashed and pasted together. Most of the works have a central point, radiating outwards, breaking space into a multitude of micro worlds and patterns. The notion of traditional grid space is usurped by triangular shapes which explode and multiply in myriad possibilities, as though science and technology have crashed and burned into a formal and toxic landscape. The artist also uses drawing and printing to reproduce or replicate motifs of space, all heavily collaged on canvas. The images can not be taken in by the human eye all at once due to the multiplicity of forms. Formally tied to the 1960’s Op art of Bridget Riley, Porray’s constructions move sideways and contrary: compositions burst with seeming chaos while bound together in a kind of Buckminster Fuller / tweaker architecture.
The work plays notions of ornamentation, systems, and orderliness into unexpected corners; humorous, apocalyptic and radiant. His vision is not of an organic nature, but conceptual, mathematic realms. While some of his geometric patterning mirrors folk art quilts, they also recall the futuristic films, Brazil and Blade Runner, yet any somberness is eradicated as the artist seems to have hacked Matisse’s color wheel to animate the darkness.
Using cyberspace language: leet or leetspeak (once an obscure language of computer geeks and hackers) to title his works, Porray melds notions of the digital and material worlds; techno language as a code to point to or locate objects and more, essence. In –(\DARKHOR5E/)– , the veil has dropped, the acid too, and so the definitions we hold precious: now we see.
Brian Porray’s work was recently acquired by the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation, Los Angeles; he is a 2012 Fellow at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, Nebraska; and a previous recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2010. Brian’s work has appeared in New American Paintings #84, and #87. He was included in ‘Spectrum’ at the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery, Cal Poly Pomona, California, and has shown at Tomkins Projects, Brooklyn, New York, Trifecta Gallery in Las Vegas, and Sheppard Fine Arts in Reno, Nevada. Porray is an MFA graduate of the University of Las Vegas.
Brian Porray is an MFA graduate of the University of Las Vegas, and lives and works in Claremont, California.