BERLIN, GERMANY.-Haunch of Venison, Berlin, presents Brian Alfred - Millions Now Living Will Never Die!!!, on view through March 22, 2008. The American artist Brian Alfred (born 1974) is best known for paintings, collages and animations which examine the ways in which perception of our surroundings and culture is mediated by technology. His works present a flattened, depopulated and predominantly urban world derived from found images. His thematic concerns - including the signifiers of Modernist idealism and technological progress, conspiracy theories and the growing prevalence of surveillance in the post-9/11 world - have led him to focus on images featuring architecture, machinery, interiors and urban landscapes. However, he has also explored ways in which to recalibrate the clichéd tropes of romanticism - a sunset, cherry blossom or a shooting star - for the twenty-first century. The world as depicted by Alfred is distanced, banal - as in visually unremarkable - yet highly charged with possible meanings.
As Aaron Betsky has suggested: 'In a world dominated by images that promise a great deal, delight the senses and scare the hell out of us... All art can do is to show the flatness of that promise, of those compositions, and of the world around us. And this is what Brian Alfred does. His world is flat. His surfaces are impenetrable.' The mass media enacts the first flattening of both our perceived world and lived experience. Working from photographs, Alfred defines the essential forms present in an image with the aid of a computer - a process of reduction and abstraction as well as, perversely, focussing - before rendering the forms as carefully calibrated colour fields in animation or acrylic (it is worth noting that despite their formally precise sources Alfred's collages and paintings have a very handmade and crafted tactility to them). Thus in the finished works the artist's hand is at more than one remove. Presenting non- judgemental renderings of surface, of flatness, and of shape, Alfred leaves conclusions concerning paranoia or politics, the manifold meanings of his images, to the beholder. 'His task,' suggests Betsky, 'as somebody who has dedicated himself to making and not just consuming images, is to use the logic by which our visual culture works, which is seduction mixed with blandness that allows the information to reach as wide an audience as possible, against the flatness itself.'
Haunch of Venison Berlin are to present an exhibition of over 300 animated, painted and collaged portraits of the people who have informed and influenced Alfred's creative practice, from musicians and architects to politicians and writers. Alfred's ambitious new project represents a significant departure from his previous practice by placing the creative individual within society as the focus. 'Millions Now Living Will Never Die!!!' maps the many and diverse creative influences that act upon the artist in the form of 333 portraits of musicians, artists, actors, writers and politicians, a series of animated portraits and a 'mash up' soundtrack. The project proposes that personal creativity can be understood as a potentially open and affective process, as the chain of influence extends from artist to artist, from generation to generation.
Many of the subjects of Alfred's portraits are famous figures who have profoundly affected contemporary culture - as well as Alfred's own practice - including Pop artists Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist, and musicians Miles Davis and Bob Marley. Equally, a number of the portraits represent members of the experimental art and music scenes, such as Squarepusher or Kid 606, figures known only to a select audience. Alfred's friends and family are also featured. Some of these people have provided rich and enduring inspiration for the artist; others represent fleeting moments which are nonetheless important. The project thus provides a map or index of Alfred's creative development, and can even be understood as a form of expanded self-portraiture.
Brian Alfred lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He has exhibited widely internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo (2007); Haunch of Venison, Zurich (2006); Mary Boone Gallery, New York (2005, 2006); Haunch of Venison, London (2005); Phoenix Art Museum (2004); Sandroni Rey Gallery, Los Angeles (2003) and Max Protetch Gallery, New York (2000, 2002, and 2004). He was recently included in 'System Error: War is a Force that gives us Meaning' at the Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena (2007); 'Shapes of Space' at the Guggenheim, New York (2007); 'Radar - Selections from the Kent and Vicki Logan Collection', Denver Art Museum (2006) and 'Metropolis' at The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2004). Alfred's work is included in many important collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.