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September 27 - October 20, 2019

Martin Brief– Hope (2017–2019)

1,461 Drawings, Oil Pastel on Paper
smallspace Gallery

Opening Reception
Friday, September 27, 2019
6:00 - 9:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public

Closing Artist Talk
Sunday, October 20, 2019
2:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public

Artist Statement

Hope is not simply the wish that everything in the future will be rosy and wonderful just as hopelessness does not mean that the future can only be worse than it is now. Hope is a thought process that removes us from this moment and clouds our ability to clearly see what is right in front of us. These drawings allude to the unknown, amorphous nature of the future and are an equivalent to the idea that hope is being able to accept and appreciate the unknown future while still being able to act in the present. Each small piece in this project begins as a carefully executed oil pastel drawing of the word “hope”. The drawing is then smudged until the word is transformed into a haphazard shape. The use of smudging rather than erasing or blacking out the word emphasizes transformation over negation or obfuscation. By physically redistributing or reorganizing the oil pastel the drawing is allowed to remain materially the same but visually radically different. In this way each drawing is literally, physically, and figuratively "hope". The entire project consists of 1,461 drawings, the number of days from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021.

Brief Biography

Over the past ten years Martin Brief has made art as a way to interrogate aspects of our complex social fabric. Topics have included, among other things, celebrity, the media, God, success, security, and the relationship between science and religion. His drawings ask viewers to reconsider their relationship to these ideas and to examine how individually and collectively we construct our understanding of and belief in these subjects. Brief sees the gallery as a place to discuss ideas, disrupt patterns of belief, and plant seeds for social change. He creates works that allow for thoughtful contemplation and open a space for reasoned dialogue.

Brief's work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally including exhibitions in New York, Paris, Zurich, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and St. Louis. In addition, his work is in several public collections, including the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts in Honolulu, Hawaii. He recently received fellowships from the Howard Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. Martin’s work is represented by Danese/Corey, New York. Brief was born and raised in Chicago and he currently lives and works in St. Louis where he is an Associate Professor at Saint Louis University.

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Page Updated 8/3/2019 5:42:27 PM