artist / participant

press release

gescheidle is proud to present Heads, a series of new paintings by David Brody, Associate Professor and Chair of the Painting & Drawing Department at the University of Washington in Seattle.

David was born in New York. He did undergraduate work at Columbia University and Bennington College, and received an M.F.A. in painting from Yale University. In addition to solo exhibitions at Gallery NAGA in Boston, Esther Claypool Gallery in Seattle, gescheidle in Chicago, and Galeria Gilde in Portugal, his work has been featured in numerous group shows including those at the Chicago Center for the Print, the Center on Contemporary Art (COCA) and the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, The Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Florida, Tallahassee, and The Painting Center, Alternative Museum, and Bridgewater Gallery in New York City.

He has received numerous awards including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Fulbright Grant, a Basil H. Alkazzi Award, an Elizabeth Foundation Grant, two Massachusetts Artist Fellowships, and was a Fellow at the Shave International Artists' Workshop in Somerset, England. David has been a visiting critic at Harvard University, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Chicago, and Carnegie Mellon University. This is his second solo show at gescheidle.

The specific themes and modes of figuration in my recent work emerged in the late-1990s. At that time I came upon a sentence in Lawrence Durrell's Justine, which went, "... he is, when all is said and done, just a passage for liquids and solids, a pipe of flesh." This seemed the verbal equivalent of at least part of what I was painting. Formed of liquids and solids, we are a passage for the same. We consume, we excrete, and we will die and decompose, be consumed and excreted. We are made of molecules which have formed other things in other times and places. We are a stop on a continuum spanning time, space, the inanimate, and the animate. We also occupy a place along a continuum of living things. Our animal nature is confirmed in our biology: our mortality and bodily processes.

My most recent paintings are of female heads. These began as studies for standing nudes. I had three goals when I began these. The first was to look at scale. The heads range from half life-size to just over life-size. The relationship of the head to the amount of ground which surrounds it also varies. In painting the heads I was trying to get a sense of how I should proceed regarding these relationships in the intended full-figure paintings. The second goal was to establish palette and color relationships - would the painting be primarily yellow? ...mostly pink with a small amount of blue-green ...or would the figure be warm and orange in a cool-blue ground? This is what I sought to identify in each case.

The third goal was to get to know each head - in a sense, to rehearse painting it before painting the full figures. Since I don't paint from observation I wanted to give myself an opportunity to get to know the features and head very well. I take great care to prepare a glass-like surface. I paint on birch plywood which has been prepared with thin layers of a white ground sanded multiple times. In the painting itself I apply the paint in thin transparent layers. The idea is to allow the white ground to shine through from underneath adding a degree of luminosity to the image. In the intended nudes I didn't want to have to muck around finding the form and risk losing the luminosity of the surface. For the heads themselves I did a good deal of preliminary drawing so that even in these studies I could preserve some of this pristine quality. As I was working on these heads I became more and more involved in their complexities and subtleties and they began to emerge for me as paintings in their own right.


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David Brody