I make a variety of artwork, including paintings, works on paper, and mixed media hand-painted assemblages; however, painting is the foundation of my art. People often ask if my work involves photography, but that is not the case; the imagery is all painted by hand using a combination of airbrushing and traditional paintbrush techniques.
My mixed media work, such as that of my Time Machines and Axis Mundi series, merges painting with the art of sculpture and assemblage. I paint on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, panel, and wood. When possible, I use found materials, like discarded tabletops and cabinet frames, and oftentimes build my underlying structures by hand from pieces of salvaged wood that I cut and assemble into different shapes.
At various stages of creating each piece, I incorporate real objects, such as antique hinges and gauges, vintage handles, chains, cables, and recycled leather. I strive to achieve a seamless flow between the paint and objects, creating an illusion that draws the viewer in to see what is real and what is painted.
Antique and vintage parts have flowed into my work in a natural way. I want my pieces to look like old, found artifacts or “machines” from another time and the antiques help give them an authentic feel. I also find aged, deteriorating, and rusting surfaces to be fascinating and beautiful, and I have spent countless hours studying and perfecting ways to produce this effect with paint in my work. I often layer paint and plasters to lend the look of rusted, weathered metal, and strategically sand and distress my pieces to get the antiqued feel I am looking for.
Conceptually, I want to convey the notion that hidden elements are at work below the surface, and that what we perceive may not be what is there in reality. Much of my work is illusionistic and is based on the ancient technique of trompe l’oeil (meaning “to fool the eye”). In many of my pieces, I paint a window that opens up to another realm or dimension, often revealing an expansive, timeless waterscape. In other cases, I paint a portal that gives a glimpse into the inner workings at play behind some surface reality. I aim to paint these windows, portals, and other flat imagery in my work to look 3-dimensional, and then further “fool the eye” by integrating real objects into the painted imagery.
My artistic explorations of time and perception led to my Axis Mundi series, which is inspired by symbology, alchemy, and spiritual iconography. The central concept for these works, Axis Mundi (meaning, “axis of the world”), is the still point around which all of the universe is rotating and has been thought of as a portal between the earthly and heavenly realms in various religious and mythological traditions. In some of the pieces, this “center” is shown as a glowing light, symbolizing a place beyond time and beyond what the senses perceive, and as you move outward there is rust and decay, representing the impermanent and temporal nature of life. In many of the pieces, I’ve used the image of a horizon where primordial ocean waters meet an endless expanse of sky, and have also introduced more circular or mandalic shapes, signifying a state of no beginning and no end. In addition to mixed media works, with this series I have gotten back to one of the most basic forms of creating - pencil and paper. I like using a medium that has stood the test of time to convey the ideas of this series.
In addition to my assemblage-oriented art, I create traditional paintings, drawings, and works on paper, inspired by many of the same concepts that inform my mixed media work.
- Jason Brammer