BRIAN BRESS : He Doubled Himself as a Body of Colors

B R I A N   B R E S S

About BRIAN BRESS’s Video-sculptures and sculptures

— In Lieu of Flowers send Memes —
Cherry and Martin Gallery, West Los Angeles — May-June 2017


by Rosanna Albertini

We commonly give the color of our notions of the known to our ideas of the unknown: we call death sleep because it outwardly resembles sleeping; if we call death a new life it’s because it seems like something different from life.

Hi, I am Rickybird, mint, hot pink, a wintergreen Members Only, and mister Still Life, orange to blue. Although you see three figures in separate frames, it’s always me, the replica of a human body, with three different heads. They bear the burden of intellectual effort, their failure to see through unknown realities.

To restore life to art, my artist looked for visual songs hoping to reverse the meaning of what we see. He choose to hide his body and especially his head in a rigid container that makes him blind and deaf. He is a master of collage. Don’t stop there, the word only speaks technique, or combination of styles, technique again. I am not a collage, I am a sculpture that rotates 360 degrees within a frame hung on the wall. Yes, I am a body of logarithms and pixels, with no weight and no senses.

BRIAN BRESS, Still Life (orange to blue), 2017
High definition single-channel video (color), High definition monitor and player, wall mount, framed.
40.75 x 23.125 x 2.5 inches, 21:32 Loop. Courtesy of the artist and Cherry Martin Gallery











Among the many things I can repeat, from my artificial mind, there is some Robert Musil: we live “in a period of civilization that had simply filled with rubble the access to the soul.” “The most important things take place today in the abstract, and the most trivial ones in real life.” Memory is as solid a part of me as my numerical soul. I don’t give a damn if humans are faltering, or losing the sense of self. I bring simple truths afloat: I spread silence, and around my invisible skeleton I display a rotation which is only my inner clock: free from night and day, far from shadows, brushing any subjectivity away from me.

Let’s make a fresh start: my heads can be severed, then reconstructed as classic monuments of cumulative clumps of ideas, resting in peace in their sculpted form. My severed heads are white, white and impersonal as if the hand-work of the artist was forgotten. They conjure up a variety of moods —a little like the verbs moods— that you can discover walking all around the heads. Some serious, others ridiculous, over all impenetrable.











Men and things have the same destiny — because it is abstract — an equally indifferent value in the algebra of the mystery.
But there is something else… Oh how many times have my very own dreams arisen before me like things, not to take the place of my reality but to confess that they are equal to me in my not caring for them, in arising in me from without, like the trolley that turns at the far curve of the street.”

In all my dreams either you appear, dream, or, false reality, you accompany me.
With you I visit regions that are perhaps your bodies of absence and dishumanity, your essential body disfigured into a calm plain and a mountain with a cold profile in the garden of a hidden palace.”

BRIAN BRESS, Members Only (wintergreen), 2017.
High definition single-channel video, high definition monitor and player, wall mount, framed.
40.75 x 23.125 x 2.5 inches, 19:25 Loop. Courtesy of the artist and Cherry Martin Gallery











There is only one way my artist could see himself doubled like an alien looking at him from a distance, from a land of dreams in which my features do not have names, nor have a tongue on their own. He doubled himself as a body of colors: his unknown self.
I am his disfigured double, soaked in colors as a flower, an evergreen, a shiny fish luminous with scales, or a changeable mother pearl. Intention, decisions and the strength of will were melted, sent to another planet. Feelings remain, the certainty I exist, along with an eternal uncertainty about who am I.

I’m not the illusory image given back by the mirror: that really would be one exclusive way of seeing myself. No, I can feel my head navigating through time, embraced by million spaces. I wear the heroic, shiny helmets of Agamemnon and Achilles and Patroclus fighting around the walls of Troy, some futurist angles turning cubist maybe, some pop disguises as if I were pointing my tongue at the viewers, except I don’t have a tongue, nor eyes, nor ears, only my inner flame that makes me happy to rotate on my axis so slowly I seem still. Rush is banned in my space. I am as my artist made me, as light as a butterfly.

BRIAN BRESS, Rickybird (mint, hot pink), 2017
High definition single channel video (color), High definition monitor and player, Wall mount, framed.
40.75 x 23.125 x 2.5 inches, 24:18 Loop. Courtesy of the artist and Cherry Martin Gallery











Everything around us become part of us, infiltrates us in our carnal or vital sensation, and the web of the grand Spider subtly ties us to whatever is at hand, binding us in a light bed of slow death, where we rock in the wind.”

Quotes are from Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, translated by Alfred Mac Adam, Exact Change, Boston, 1998.
And from Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities, translated from German by Sophie Wilkins, Editorial consultant Burton Pike, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.




In memory of Norman Yonemoto – by Rosanna Albertini

Human time has the power to run forwards and backwards, it’s erratic like a heart beat. Norman is sentimental. He loved the Christmas tree, maybe for the mingling of memories and illusions that shine among the needles. I hung this post to a branch hoping a bird will bring it to him, over there in the blue.

NORMAN YONEMOTO, Christmas Greetings from Tule Lake, 2004

NORMAN YONEMOTO, Christmas Greetings from Tule Lake, 2004

NORMAN YONEMOTO, Christmas Greetings from Tule Lake, detail, left corner.

NORMAN YONEMOTO, Christmas Greetings from Tule Lake, detail, left corner.


NORMAN YONEMOTO, Christmas Greetings from Tule Lake, detail, right corner at the bottom.

NORMAN YONEMOTO, Christmas Greetings from Tule Lake, detail, right corner at the bottom.








“I can’t see well” – he tells me from his chair while I cook our lunch. Of course, his glasses looked like an after-war relic, a grasshopper without a leg. Of course, Norman did not complain. I fixed the frame, washed the lenses. We laughed. Words, numbers reappeared. Oh, to persist with art making after a stroke hadn’t been easy. Especially after having been a well known video artist with his brother Bruce. He did it nonetheless, small scale, intimate, turning the lights on in the rooms of his mind, opening his own museum of innocence: tangible relics in a box around time machines (clocks) that we only see reflected in mirrors or captured by a camera. Always indirectly. As we talk about his last box about a murdered uncle of his, Norman’s head slowly reclines, absorbed by the enemy Norman fought for twenty years: Pain. A pill, some rest, and lunch restarts, and the mood is good.

Life after a stroke is like life after a bomb. Half body becomes the offender, the other half the resister. O and R share the same body machine. One leg moves, the other stalls like a pigeon in a cage; same with hands, as the brain continues to drive to the end of the tunnel. The offender must be fed with chemical donuts, sort of contemporary Cerberus, not the anti-theft application to recover stolen Android device, the mythological Cerberus: “multi-headed dog usually three-headed, or hellhound with a serpent’s tail, a mane of snakes, and lion’s claws.” He prevents the dead from escaping from the underworld and the living from entering. In Norman’s body the offender can’t get out, is prisoner as well, and the resister cannot evict him, only feed him. Norman accepted some devices installed in his body to fight this war, interested in such a physical relation to technology.



On and off with a switch, art and life, personal and universal, natural history and family stories, play their boxed in comedy. Christmas Greetings came from the internment camp of Lake Tule, California. Before Norman was born his family had been transplanted there. Each box is a space of wonder, for the sake of art and the courage of loving art. The electrical resistance in the bulb burns like a flame. “There is a time in which progress seems to stop,” Norman told me ten years ago. Humans were on his mind, not machines. He was dreaming the advent of the Goddess, a turn of civilization to reinstate collaboration and friendship with nature.

I don’t know if ever this will happen, something of that kind I saw in Norman’s life with John and all the members of their families. For me, it was a spot of light as mysterious as the Goddess: a family truly happy and generous. It gave me hope, it gives me strength.

Photos: Peter Kirby