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John Brosio

“I don’t think of a picture as the same as life, but I think in a curious way the pictures I like reflect life and return to me a life more violently, as does an art that moves me.” Francis Bacon "

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Review by Grady Harp

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back

State of the Union, 2011, 41X66 inches

Film or cinema was the first direction in art that young California artist John Brosio responded to and that could very well explain his preoccupation with movement and fantasy and the bizarre contradictions in nature he so adroitly paints on his canvases." His images he creates, both from nature and from his vivid imagination, are not unlike the special effects that replace the green screen in films: constructing near impossible situations that seem to threaten or challenge the foreground image is what makes Brosio’s magic work. Looking inside John Brosio’s creative mind is not unlike falling down the rabbit hole: the reference here, of course, is from Lewis Carroll’s strange epic Alice in Wonderland where going down the rabbit hole led Alice into a strange, dreamlike world where things didn't make sense, or, that satisfying curiosity might produce bizarre or paradoxical experiences. And perhaps that constantly inquisitive mind has lead Brosio into apparent threatening situations – such as chasing tornadoes for three years in storm season in the Midwest and becoming mesmerized by the interaction of nature gone awry with human response to cataclysm. ‘For me the tornado represents a perfect blend of mythology and science. It is easy to imagine it alive and unpredictable, to view it as a god or agent thereof. One sees this mile-high banshee choosing certain targets and skipping others like a jittery reaper with sound and mannerisms so evocative of a living entity.’ Brosio grew to understand the behavior of such natural variations in weather moments: ‘Witnessing its birth, entire life, death and interim behavior leaves me feeling"privy to the life of an animal greater than us—the footfall of a giant. And, after all the wonder and speculation, it is in the end, like me, just a mass of animated dust.’ WWW.POETSANDARTISTS.COM!

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Review by Grady Harp

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back

Once Brosio had studied the life of tornadoes by chasing them (‘They have an inherent beauty and unconscious, superior strength which gives random permission to the continuation of humanity’), his approach to painting changed. In his paintings such as Edge of Town 7 the cone of the tornado itself is the subject matter, but as he skillfully mastered the atmosphere of the tornado occurrences he could easily use them as his green screen and incorporate buildings and people in the foreground as in DeChirico, TX, Edge of Town 10, or Rides 2. As Brosio summarizes his work in this artist statement, his place in today’s art world becomes more apparent: ‘My most ambitious work has the look of narrative but is rather more like ecosystem, a terrarium in which certain ratios of occupant to environment are apportioned and explored." The notion of environment and our role within it fascinates me." Not all of my work reaches this far because forays into humor or paint and color per se can definitely engage me but, the notion of environment, both natural and social, is my base inspiration." Realization, for instance, of the"fact that things like sandwiches and nuclear fusion are deeply and daily linked gives rise to the notion of a context for us so compelling and vast that it drives me to explore the seemingly" disparate dynamics of spectacle and commonplace and reconcile them into relationship as allegory and pertinence." Indeed, the subject" matter that most quickly owns our attention is my muse and for good"reason:" Dinosaur bones, tornadoes, sharks, and the like, have" everything to do with defining our place in the scheme of things. They are accessible representatives of the larger forces which not only brought us here but will one day take us away." Incidentally, ask any astrophysicist today and I suspect that, after a possible" battle of semantics, he or she will agree that the only Creation"there has ever been is Definition itself.’ " """"""""""""""""""""""

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John Brosio Edge of Town 10 (detail), 2010, 40X46 inches


Review by Grady Harp

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back The desire to deal with cinematic special effects – creating strange objects that embellish adventurous manipulative worlds – is evident on some of Brosio’s past and present work." In Two Earthlings he has painted two figures of equal value that make a dark allegory of man and nature: ‘In this case we have me standing next to a dead shark. The title cannot be stated any more plainly. There is no better or worse here in a sense. I have always been very stimulated by what immense clarity is offered by the notion of context. If you look at this planet in a proper timeline you can obviously see how very small humans are. And how miraculous they are. We are the first organism here it seems with the capability of carrying around a sense or picture of the actual universe in our heads. Every other animal knows only clouds and sky at best (with some moon thrown in). And this causes us to forget maybe how fragile we are. This painting is concerned with that notion: the man here is on top and in the lighting of apotheosis but he is a fragile king.’ John Brosio’s keen wit and clever manner of perception of the human condition is brilliantly illustrated in his painting Fatigue: at dusk a man stops in the street after a day’s work and his sense of fatigue lies in the metaphor of the lazy octopus draped over his dwelling. In State of the Union three giant hens stand over a town scene of humans seemingly unaware of the bizarre thought: ‘Greedy, bloated simpletons run a lot of what happens today and this particular image begins to assume its place in the world of heavy-handed metaphor. Is it a funny painting? Maybe. But that is probably incidental to my take on the rift between daily life and the problems it can never address. More like a gravid sarcasm maybe.’ WWW.POETSANDARTISTS.COM!

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John Brosio Edge of Town 7 (detail), 2005, 40X48"inches


Review by Grady Harp

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back

John Brosio Fatigue (detail), 2009, 48X60 inches WWW.POETSANDARTISTS.COM!

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Review by Grady Harp

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back

And so we have in our midst a gifted painter, technically excellent, trained by the likes of Wayne Thiebaud, Richard Bunkall and David Limrite, a curious mind living in Southern California but chasing after natural phenomena wherever they may occur – on the weather grid or on the entertaining interaction set where humans partake in a comedy, unpredictable and vulnerable, that challenge the ability of cinema to take us on a ride into the unexpected.

John Brosio Rides 2, 2000, 60X72 inches WWW.POETSANDARTISTS.COM!

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Review by Grady Harp

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back

John Brosio Two Earthlings,1998, 48X60" inches

“The artist’s studio isn’t the alchemist’s study where he searches for the philosopher’s stone – something which doesn’t exist in our world – it would perhaps be more like the chemist’s laboratory, which doesn’t stop you imagining that some unexpected phenomena might appear; quite the opposite, in fact."“" """""""""" """"""""""""""""" Francis Bacon WWW.POETSANDARTISTS.COM!

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Down the Rabbit Hole and Back - John Brosio - Poets and Artists