Local artist Brian Crawford on the fine line between death and art
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 30, 2012 14:09
The mouth is sewn shut by sharp stitching and the eyes have already retreated from the world of sight. In the painting “Stretching Complications” Brian Crawford recognizes the agonizing process of motivating intrapersonal change.
“It’s an expression of how violent and how uncomfortable it is to strive to be something more than you are,” he said in a July 27 interview.
The painting, done with pencil and charcoal, depicts a flailing skeleton within the depths of its own smoky background. As a series of lateral incisions rip a dying soul to shreds, the severed diaphragm memorializes a destruction of some previous existence. Blood squirts from fragments of skin as the grasp of an undying agony emasculates a ratted pelvis.
Ideally, this groaning frame will be sewn back together by the hands of a softer fate but for now the overwhelming concept of evolution has destroyed him.
Enthused by worlds of graphic novels and mathematical taboos, Crawford’s dark nature plays a balanced part in his work. He is able to present comical abstractions like “The Story of Two Sheep” while depicting the elegance of pornography inside the panting “Good vs. Evil.” His work not only elaborates on religious dogmas, it capitalizes on the ability to make one question the diligent lines that acquires an abstracted reality.
Perhaps Crawford's most intricate drawings are centered on the overarching cycles of creation and destruction. One series depicts Tibetan Mandalas, and equates them to the ancient tradition that emphasizes the art of circles. In addition to that, these paintings signify the myths that brought these gods and goddesses into being.
In reference to the drawing titled “Palden Lhamo,” he said, “She’s supposed to be violent and fearsome and you meditate on her and the dark feelings we try to repress. She is supposed to shock those things out of you so you can cultivate compassion.”
In the painting, a blue, hidden figure crosses a sea of blood while riding sidesaddle on a white mule. On the left rump of her beast an eye penetrates the surface and denotes the puncture wound of her husband's arrow. In order to avoid the destruction of her sacred religion, she killed her own son and flayed his skin to create a saddle blanket. The hands of her offspring are visibly tied around the horse’s neck.
“I don’t know what the point of them is. I just like to put things out there. Hopefully it helps people. I don’t know, discovering mandalas helped me.”
Crawford was showcased at RAW, an independent organization that spotlights local artists, July 23. At the event he was able to present pieces for sale while networking with other local artists. More of his work can be found at brianpaulcrawford.com. For now he continues to produce work and one day desires to make a living out of it.
“This is my livelihood,” he said. “I work hard; you don't just sit around while art pops out at you.”