Brian Bress: Pictures Become You

Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Gallery
October 13, 2018 - April 14, 2019

“While these pieces have a clear sense of humor, that does not mean they should not be taken seriously. Rather, the ideas of time, impermanence and the playing with formal elements we have long come to accept is quite important. We live in an age full of “stuff,” and Bress’ work plays with how we interact with our world and highlights the impermanence of the objects we often value.”—Anderson Turner, “‘Brian Bress’ blurs lines between art and video,” Akron Beacon Journal


A curious unblinking camouflaged creature peers out through a shape cut out of a landscape painting; two faceless figures blindly place appendage-like shapes on each other’s heads, while three doughy chefs make synchronized marker drawings on glass, then erase the drawings and start over. Such is the result of Brian Bress’ complex enterprise of character development, costume design and creation, performance and film production. Figures that draw, cut, saw, arrange and pose slowly reveal invented worlds that form, unfurl and disappear again within the window of flat-screen television monitors.

Humor and playfulness are contained within the slow, deliberate movements of Bress’ figures, which feel familiar—a combination of cartoon- and puppet-like beings. They seem approachable, yet they do not interact with the viewer—they are hermetically sealed behind glass in their own repeating 15-30 minute loops. The figures are detached from time and place, existing only on and for the screen. That inaccessibility combined with their appeal creates a tension about who they are and what they are trying to tell us. Describing his work as existing somewhere between painting and video, Bress unites the masks and costumes, which serve as both props and sculptures, through his performance. States the artist, “I enjoy imagining a world where the most unlikely of things come to life.”

Brian Bress: Pictures Become You is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, and The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation.