Asya Geisberg Gallery is proud to present its first solo exhibition with Brian Scott Campbell, “Holiday.” In varying shades of mottled grays with an occasional orange sun, these modestly-sized paintings, if asked to be neatly tucked into a genre, would have to check the “landscape” box. Yet with each thinly painted brushstroke and bloodletting of color, they gallop out of that stricture. One senses instantly that their maker is not looking at any one environment or lived experience, but instead touching on archetypes and conventions of looking and representation. Campbell uses the basic elements of round suns, rectilinear trees, or triangular mountains and sailboats as easily grasped building blocks. And yet, each careful arrangement swims in a deceptively complex pool of allusions to early 20th century American painters, such as Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Charles Burchfield, and Georgia O’Keefe, run through a cartoonish figurative sieve of Philip Guston and John Wesley. Vasily Kandinsky and Hilma af Klint’s argument for abstraction’s intrinsic spiritual power likewise apply to Campbell’s work.
Campbell’s earlier work was primarily in drawing with creamy charcoal, its stylized and simplified figuration and tender grayscale echoed in his current paintings. Equally, he has transmitted his first love’s inspiration of cartoons, most noticeably the beginnings almost a century ago of Mickey Mouse. The innocence and populism imbued in those early films, along with their simplified rendering and rhythmic movements – so against the sensory overload of today’s films – add to the feelings of melancholic wistfulness that Campbell’s paintings exploit. We are never sure if the artist wishes to travel back in time, but it remains certain that the works disregard irony as a strategy. His sunsets, scenic vistas, and pastoral sites, resistant to sentimentality or specificity, excite the viewer with the myriad painterly possibilities of these elements – akin to Giorgio Morandi’s endless iterations of seemingly minimal still lifes performing a symphony of expressiveness and chromatic range found in the “dullest” of grays.
Campbell accesses the inherent emotional language of icons of nature and the histories of landscape painting, and mixes it with architecture and figuration, where a tree might insinuate a column, a sailboat a nose, or field a mere outlined triangle. His spaces could be part dream, part surreal fantasy, part art-historical mix-tape. “Like a garden, the spaces I am interested in are at once portals to a physical world and yet completely artificial. As such, the imagery in my work reflects the idea of memory itself, as a collection of both real and fictional experiences," cites the artist.
Brian Scott Campbell (b. 1983, Columbus, OH) received a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design, OH and an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, NJ. His solo exhibitions include: Marfa Projects, Texas; Galerie SPZ, Prague, Czech Republic; Arts & Leisure, New York; Stene Projects, Stockholm; Harbinger Project Space, Reykjavík, Iceland; Left Field Gallery, Los Angeles; Dutton, New York. He participated in group exhibitions at Fredericks & Freiser, New York; Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York; Anna Zorina, New York; Zevitas Marcus, Los Angeles; David Shelton Gallery, Houston; Ruttkowski; 68, Munich; NADA New York and Untitled Miami Beach Art Fair, among others. Campbell's awards and residencies include the Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency with artist Dana Schutz; The Macedonian Institute; a McColl Center for Visual Art Full Fellowship; a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship; the Artist in the Marketplace Program, Bronx Museum, New York. His work has been reviewed in Modern Painters/Blouin ArtInfo; Whitehot Magazine; Los Angeles Times; Contemporary Art Review LA, The Huffington Post; Hyperallergic; Two Coats of Paint; It’s Nice That (London); and i-D Magazine/Vice, amongst others. Campbell lives and works between Denton, Texas and Reykjavík, Iceland, and is an assistant professor in drawing and painting at The College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas.