Martin Bromirski is the latest artist here on Life, the Universe and Art. Based in upstate New York, he received his BFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Martin is a multi disciplinary artist who work includes paintings, and photos, he also authors the art blog Anaba. His work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including The Painting Center, NY, D.U.M.B.O Art Center in NY, Digging PiTT Gallery, Pittsburg, Art Base; Stuffy's in Richmond, VA and most recently at Richard Prince's Second House in Renesselaervialle, NY. Martin talks about his work and its influences here on Life.
1. Your latest body of work “at Second House” deals with the remnants of a fire at Richard Prince’s Second House. It seems to explore not only the physical remnants of a fire, but also speaks about your relationship to the mythology of the artist. What led you to this development?
Oh, so complicated… how do I answer? The interest in the mythology of the artist, the idea/creation of identity, goes way back… at least to my last year of college (1989/1990). One of the big things for me back then was the discovery in the hall of a blackboard, full of mysterious diagrams and the name “Humberto Maturana”. The diagrams related to the charcoal drawings I had been making (maybe under the influence of Beuys?), and the lyrical name led to the birth of a character and a whole body of work exploring those identity themes. This was before google, and I was already way inspired, so it was more than a year before I did any research on that name and discovered that Humberto Maturana was a real person, a Chilean expert on the nature of time, metadesign, the ontology of observing. I ordered one of his books, called Tree of Knowledge.. which blew my mind (the parts I could even understand) because it tied in so much with the Humberto stuff I’d been making. The ephemerality of certainty, “living as a process is a process of cognition”, the reciprocality of perception.
The interest in the house comes from a lot of other stuff too, of course. Two of my favorite buildings in Kyoto are Ginkakuji and Kinkakuji… the Silver Pavilion and the Gold Pavilion. Prince’s Second House was silver, Kinkakuji was destroyed in fire. The fire was arson, fictionalized in an account by Mishima Yukio, set by a young monk obsessed with it’s beauty and perfection.
2. The two series of Jerry Saltz, both at Stuffy’s Basel and the Studio visit, are such an interesting
and exciting play on the relationship of artist and critic. How did you develop this idea and how has it been received by Jerry Saltz (especially the kiss!)?
Jerry Saltz came to Richmond , to give a lecture at VCU in conjuction with the John Ravenal-curated exhibition Artificial Light. They had made small posters featuring a life-size profile photo of Jerry Saltz, so I took a few and cut out his head, to kind have a conversation with. I was holding his head, forcing him to look at my paintings on the wall, nodding his head… it was like he was my dummy. Then I took my cell-phone and with one hand tried to hold the paper head in a realistic way and keep it from curling, while with the other I took pictures. One thing led to another and the paintings were pretty much forgotten, and we ended up in bed.
That first set of photos taken at my apt/studio was a result of total play, but they were so hilarious I wanted to show them, so I decided to construct an almost-possible narrative of actually meeting him. I took the head to the Stuffy’s show and climbed all over the booths trying to take good photos of him with all of the work… that second set of photos of Jerry at Stuffy’s was posted before the original set, so I could make up the story of meeting him at Stuffy’s and inviting him to my studio.
It felt GREAT to make that fake art fair, with the sign out front, have the paper head critic come, and put it all on my blog. So many more people have seen, and continue to see, those pieces than if I had actually had a painting included in the corner of someone’s booth in Miami . The self-empowered DIY delusion truly superior to reality.
I have no idea what Jerry thinks of that piece, but I’d be surprised if he has not seen it. It has definitely been e-mailed around, and people click on that link every single day; it’s always on the first or second page when people google his name. He probably thought it was funny, but doesn’t consider it any more seriously, because it is not represented by a gallery and not in NYC.
3. Your work has a definitively playful side to it even when it deals with very serious subject matter.
How and why have you developed this sensibility (which I really love, by the way)?
Thanks. Wow, these questions are hard… that sensibility (any sensibility?) isn’t something that has been consciously developed. But, I guess yeah, a person can recognize his sensibility and embrace/repress to whatever degree. I suppose that I am an embracer of the goofballness.
4. There is a distinct aesthetic that you use in your photographic work, a feeling of presentness. How have you developed this?
If I have the same understanding of this feeling which you describe, it may be because with my photos I am not like trying to be a third-party neutral observer, or a recorder, but am actively in the space and/or engaging with the subject of the photograph. There is no distancing. It probably goes back to that immersion in Maturana and his ideas.
It might also be partly due to the crappy quality of my photos? I don’t have a real camera, they have almost all been taken with disposable cameras and my cell-phone. Does the lack of polish possibly contribute to that feeling of presentness?
I think a similar thing is happening with the paintings.
Actually, I’d really like to get a real camera. I’m kind of bummed that there are so many good cell-phone photos that I don’t think I can make prints of, the resolution and color would be so bad. They will probably always just be digital.
5. Your work, the “at Second House” series, the Jerry Saltz bodies, the Ana Project all seem to merge life and art together. How has this process affected your life and your work? And how has blogging affected them both?
When I started doing all the small paintings with circles it was while I was always eating at Stuffy’s… it got cold and Stuffy’s started having a Sub of the Season, it was a meatball sub. Every single day, sometimes more than once, I was eating the meatball Sub of the Season because it was the cheapest, and warm. Then I started to look at these meatballs every day and think about my circle paintings, started to think of the paintings as meatballs… not literally, but the physicality, oddness, awkardwardness, sloppiness, etc… and to think about the Stuffy’s space. So I asked if I could make a show at Stuffy’s… it was called Meatballs at Stuffy’s. The following year I organized a show of a bunch of awesome Richmond artists at Stuffy’s, concurrent with a show I had at Haigh Jamgochian’s fantastic Markel Building . Now I want to have a show at this gym I am going to every day… getting really into that space.
Blogging is having a huge affect on my art, process, and life… forging real and imagined relationships, leading to the creation of a lot of photo/narrative work, stimulating an interest in provocation, how much to share, wondering what the line is, what happens if you cross the line, lots more writing, lots more photography, awareness of an audience, doing internet art, thinking about entertainment, how to pace, just a ton of stuff. It is all still relatively new to me, so it’s hard to grasp exactly what things are happening. I have absolutely no “blog guilt”, like I think a number of artist bloggers develop… that they’re wasting time not making their “real” art, whatever medium it is. I just think of the blog as a medium that I’m enjoying experimenting and participating in, even if I don’t always know what I’m doing or why.
Ten Influences (can be anything)
I’m changing “Top Ten” to “Ten”…
Mildred Elfman Greenberg
Paris (an artist, not the city)
Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof
Comics - Jack Kirby, et al
Japan – so much from 8+ years there, an unbelievable amount, too much to identify here.
Richmond - the atmosphere/life-style/vibe/aesthetic, plus artists like Haigh Jamgochian, Paul DiPasquale, Don Crow, Travis Conner, Jeannine Harkleroad, Ron Johnson.