The Grenning Gallery of Sag Harbor hosted Southampton native artist Brian Farrell on Sunday, August 19, at Parrish Art Museum’s Summer Family Party.
Farrell said he fell in love with Parrish’s “modern, contemporary architecture,” with collections in line with his artistic aesthetic after being introduced to the museum through friends Andrea and Cristina Geeven.
An event unlike others, families had a hands-on opportunity to work directly with Farrell, continuing Parrish’s mission of education. The day was filled with interactive creations and visual experiences geared towards children.
From participating in the event, what message do you want to impart to the next generation of artists?
Art is not about quickly making something from a stencil or a tracing from the use of a projector. It’s work. It’s thought. It should teach and gain awareness of a certain subject matter. It should capture one’s imagination, scramble their mind, hold space, provoke an emotion or a sensation.
Your choice as an artist is not to copy what another is doing because it may be successful, not to copy work from the past. Let that work be. It had its moment in so-called time. Be influenced by it but move forward and do your own thing in present time.
Your purpose, as in science, is to help humanity move forward from what has already been discovered, created. If you can’t, then it’s not for you. Adaptation is key. Learn, observe and evolve.
What was your first painting?
Speaking of “copying,” it was a primitive, not so well done, landscape, influenced by Monet and Van Gogh. It was oil on canvas of a garden I had designed. So, it was still my creation, just not very good.
It was a self-taught piece. It sold for $950. Ha. Not bad for a starter.
Why did attending New York Academy of Art change your style?
Attending this fine academy not only changed my style, I actually learned to draw and paint. It was my first, real, true lesson/education in art. Before that, I’m not certain I knew what I was doing. It was like guessing how expansive the universe is.
It brought out my artistic tools and helped me to become a much better organized renderer, painter, artist. I could do any type of work from the fundamentals I learned at the academy.
It is a figurative school, but you do not necessarily have to stick with that. The academy gives you the proper tools to move on and develop/enhance your own voice, your own style, your own you.
How do you incorporate quantum physics into your work?
Quantum mechanics, the particle matter and below atoms, stuff that makes up the universe, that’s what I like to make work from, the fundamentals.
I think it’s important for society to know who you are and where you came from, your makeup and how we interact with the environment.
In what ways does music influence your work?
It’s developed over time. In the past, I listened to a much more aggressive type of music, that’s where my energy was at — Metallica, Tool, Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana. [The music was] energetic, anxious, negative a lot of the time, and it drove what I was creating. Oddly enough, you can see the work at that time has an aggressive undertone to it, a darkness.
When you sit in a room with music, at a microlevel, you don’t even realize how it interacts with what you produce. Then I listened to electric: Deadmau5, Kaskade, Avicii, Armin Van Buuren. Now it’s space ambient, with an electric type beat behind it.
Is there a particular issue plaguing society today that resonates with you?
There are two. I’m most passionate about the environment, especially the pollution of our oceans from millions of tons of plastic, harmful overfishing, and senseless destruction of marine life. The more complex issue is the chaos and/or confusion from misinterpretation of text, speech, and language.
I am currently working on a piece that the subject is entropy and it’s a “maze runner” game. There is a start point of equilibrium and an end point of chaos. The state of equilibrium is a word, phrase, or code. It doesn’t really matter because it is represented as a sphere. The object is to get through the maze on parallel sides and maintain that equilibrium. I offer a code that you follow to get through and find that state is not maintained upon exiting.
This piece illustrates “fake news,” speech, or the written word being lost, misunderstood, misinterpreted, resulting in a host of issues under the heading of chaos.
Grenning Gallery is located at 17 Washington Street in Sag Harbor. It is open Thursday through Monday beginning at 11 AM, or visit www.grenninggallery.com. Brian Farrell’s website is www.brianfarrellart.com or follow him @brianfarrellart.