Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pat Berran

Untitled, 2005, Ink, oil, and acrylic on canvas, 30” x 36”

Check out Pat's website for more works....and the email interview below...

JL: If I'm not mistaken, your first couple of works pictured here were both completed during graduate school. Could you tell me a little bit more about how they came about…

PB: These works came at a point in grad school when I gave up on painting. It’s funny because I came to grad school as a painter, hardly made drawings...then all I made were drawings! I worked on paper constantly, I could rip parts of collage, anything I wanted. It was definitely liberating. I fell into the old, "a painting is precious, a drawing is not" ideology, which was great for a while. The works turned more and more into a landscape-type space, which was surprising to me, and I followed this tendency. Originally a representational painter, it was honestly very rewarding to fuse an image that appeared as "something" with an attitude towards the point where I was making paintings again.

But it became too easy…they were very "likeable" paintings. Every painting was predictable to me. Colors were bright pink for no reason, etc. I kind of freaked out and the next few months I skated a lot and tried to make the ugliest paintings I could make; which I definitely did and this worked. In a weird way I grew to appreciate how I worked toward and through these works and ultimately not having an attachment to any particular spatial format became the biggest discovery. Within current works I will sometimes let them become a vague landscape, sometimes not...and I enjoy having that option within the work.

Servicing the King, 2006, ink and graphite on paper, 60" x 80"

JL: How it is to look back at the works from 2005?

PB: I still enjoy looking at these works. I probably will never make a work that is as large as "servicing…" again. That’s definitely for sure! But even the last piece you posted…I love it, but that feels old to me. In a sense, it feels far away to me/disconnected. I enjoy this feeling, obviously it leads to new ideas/new problems but sometimes it happens too often. I will have patches of work that work well together, and "whooosh" another aesthetic change and it cancels the other works.

JL: So, you were attracted to a certain non-precious quality of drawing…Do you mean the fact that they are held in less regard than painting? Especially coming from doing figurative works, was there a sense that you had to “start over”?

PB: At this time, three years ago, I was attracted to drawing because it felt more spontaneous. Painting was the "real deal," and it drove me nuts. It felt more relevant to make abstract drawings rather than abstract paintings. With drawing I could relax; throw it away...put it in a bucket of bleach for 2 days just to see what happens. Why not? Making drawings was faster, cheaper and easier to store. I began to combine printmaking, collage, cut-outs..... it was about experimentation at that time. Just like any artist, I was digging for more. At the time, it was very popular to make faux naive abstract paintings. In contrast, I wanted to make the most precious and anal drawings that I could make. It was a challenge for me, and it was something that drove the work aesthetically, and to a degree as a concept. That was important, and this attitude definitely informs my work to this day.

Untitled, 2007, oil and acrylic on panel, 24” x 24”

JL: If this is the case, why do you think you might have paused at working on drawings rather than moving to sculpture or something else?

PB: During this period, I made a lot of work and came to a lot of different solutions and problems that have informed the work that I am at now. It wasn’t that I started over or paused with drawing. I just wanted to strip my practice clean, and to me, drawing is the most fundamental. I did make a sound piece during this time.

JL: While it’s clear how the drawing informed the paintings, how has your approach differed? Besides experimenting with making ‘ugly’ works, have you done anything else to combat your own manner of working?

PB: My approach has differed at times. I start paintings in a number of different ways and I have tricks to keep myself sane. I enjoy starting pieces with aspects that I despise in painting, to make it my own to master something that I couldn't fathom to look at before. Once this is in my vocabulary, I tweak it in different manners. It becomes lost and turns into its own self.

Stepping Quarters, 2008, acrylic and oil on panel, 18” x 18"

JL: What is you studio process like in general? I could see you in the studio, working fast, moving quickly onto to the next thing…but then again I wouldn’t be surprised it the opposite was the case…Do you use any source materials or begin with any concept in mind?

PB: My studio process is very slow. I work on many paintings as once, four or five usually. They have a lot of stains and layers that need adequate drying times so I balance the time between the acrylic-based works and other works on paper if need be. I want the work to become mysterious. It is about intimidation. Just like skateboarding and punk rock, it is about beauty and aggression. There are so many things that the work is "about" but it is also selfishly intertwined within ideas that I hold as important. Things that don't necessarily come forth but it is important to me that these exist.


  1. yo, i thought these were supposed to be "old works"---these are '06 & 07...

  2. yo anonymous! these are "older works". what you'll find here is a focus on showing 'emerging' artists and little bit of their progression... yes, a work from 2005/06 is old to some people, especially in Pat's case where his work has changed dramatically since. you like the work?

  3. no, looks like the same old art school drivel.

  4. my apologies for deleting the previous comment earlier, anonymous lets be friends

  5. I actually think these paintings are really interesting. The progression seems to be going towards a more abstract feild. I want to know what anonymous means by "art school drivel". I tend to think that comment is a copout, you're dismissing the work due to you own personal bias, yeah? Instead of attacking, use your mind and say something critical about the work specifically.

  6. I'm just hoping for something new, that's all. The colors don't do it for me and I really don't like the sense of forced space in the first one. The third one is best but feels like a bad Richter. The second one might be better in person, but just looks like a messy Michaux here. Sorry if this is a tired argument but I feel like I've seen this kind work in a million grad thesis shows. Painting is being over-taught. Abstract field? come on....

  7. Well, the first two of these were done while he was in grad school… I’m going to post an interview soon and we’ll talk a little about that…

    Really, “something new” doesn’t make sense to me as a primary criteria. What does that have to with anything? And “the colors don’t do it” for you? I do think that these works, especially the new ones, are quite unique…don’t forget to check out his website for more of the new stuff.

    While I don’t want to pretend that I know what’s going on in every grad school, I certainly never understand why Richter is still in the conversation…I could be wrong, but I doubt that there are too many Richter clippings in grad studios today…

  8. cool, this is a good blog. I look forward to the interview. Still not sure about these but hey, what do i know?

  9. I'm a fan of the work. Check out his website for some other examples. That's what sold me!

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