Brendan Fowler, Multimedia Artist, Occasional Rock Star– Previously known for his rock act/performance piece/performance piece-disguised-as-a-rock act, BARR (for an example of this theoretical knot, please listen to BARR’s track “The Song Is The Single”), 32-year-old Brendan Fowler has recently emerged as one of the most intrepid artists coming out of Los Angeles. As with his music, Fowler’s visual productions operate in a series of aggressive negations and reassertions—often one image literally crashing through or canceling out another, but only to have the second image further the narrative of the first. Sound confusing? It really isn’t. “For years I performed as a deconstructive pop band,” he says in the Atwater Village studio—which used to be the warehouse for Beastie Boys–approved clothing line, X-Large—that he shares with artist Matt Chambers. “So the music dealt with narrative and formal arrangements, but I was also appropriating from improvised music and free-jazz compositional structures.” Take for example a series of posters of a 2008 musical tour Fowler was supposed to go on with the band Deerhunter. He was not the headliner nor was the tour cancelled—only BARR’s appearance—but Fowler spelled out “Cancelled” over screen prints of the poster which had already been cancelled out by his application of white paint over the information; he then cancelled out the cancellation by printing letters over those letters, which reinstates the act of cancellation. This may sound like a lot of rhetorical gamesmanship, but many of his sculptural paintings, where multiple frames are stacked on top of each other or smashed together, are quite biographical. In his various flower studies—a subject, according to Fowler, that announces itself as a high aesthetic but in doing so already proves itself to be an exhausted motif—one of the image layers is a shot of a computer screen, recording the exact time and file name of the flower image it is bisecting. Many recent works contain white Masonite sheets, another piece of memoir. “I almost got killed by it,” Fowler recalls. “Thirty sheets fell on me when I was in the studio alone and I was pinned there until my friends finally showed up to save me.”
Brendan Folwer outside of his Atwater Village studio, Los Angeles, October 2010. Suit: Marni. Shirt: Patrik Ervell.
Cancelled is available as a book from 100% publishing.
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