Lois Lambert Gallery, Suite E3
November 10, 2018 - January 5, 2019
The Project Room at the Lois Lambert Gallery presents “Disquiet,” a new body of work by Brian Leach. These colorful drawings reference street art, tattoo culture, and comics. Leach’s riotous swathes of animals, bodies, and patterns fill his surfaces, whether the white of his paper, or the planes of his wooden sculptures.
These works tell a story whose meaning is not always clear, but is deeply personal. Brian Leach is an individualist: his visual language and his life are the product of what cannot be taught in the classroom. Leach had a tumultuous young adulthood after college, often finding himself at odds with the law. He leads a very different lifestyle now, but his distrust of the establishment and instinct to thwart prescribed structure continues in his work. Leach describes faith as one of his driving forces, despite his strong distaste for organized religion. In many works, calligraphic script weaves in and out of Leach’s imagery, and reveals a quirky narrative, urgent impulses or forlorn musings.
Reptilian legs wind around human body parts. Leach uses pencil and India ink in a variety of colors, and these drawings boast intensive line work. Leach is devoted to tattoo art, and is inspired by traditional Japanese and Western tattoos. Lions and tigers à la Sailor Jerry (the renowned tattoo artist and a major influence) stare into rendered stairs that lead nowhere, and tessellations vanish into infinity.
Leach also cites M.C. Escher as a major influence. Like Escher, Leach uses multiple viewpoints and distortion to create impossible formations. His groupings of patterns and figures erupt from the white of his paper, and the resulting negative spaces act as graphic shapes. In other cases, these white spaces are transformed into recognizable imagery and patterns with subtle shading and delicate linework. Brian Leach has a background in carpentry and has recently taken his two dimensional work in a sculptural direction. Over the course of a year and half, Leach constructed and painted a series of 37 wooden boxes.
The patterns, figures, and animals found in his illustrations now wrap around all six sides of these structures. Like dice, many of these boxes have no clear top or bottom, and one side of the box is always destined to be hidden at its base. These are mysterious objects: the wooden boxes are sealed shut, but these are not hollow shells. The artist places an object inside each of the boxes before permanently closing them; what that item might be remains a secret that the artist chooses to keep.
These illustrations and sculptures are the product of a disregard for convention, but also careful personal exploration. What an artist shares on the surface, whether tattoos, drawings, or sculpture, is visible - what remains inside, a mystery. Brian Leach lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and has shown at several galleries in the United States. This is his first exhibition at the Lois Lambert Gallery