I never get tired of engaging with art that deals with modern loneliness—which is why I was immediately attracted to Brett Amory’s “Waiting” series. In this deeply moving collection, the artist depicts urban men and women in and around bus stands, restaurants, convenience stores, adult shops, the subway—all of them withdrawn and serious, as though inside impenetrable bubbles…struggling to communicate, unable to forge meaningful relationships in the cruel and cold darkness of the city. The hazy surface of the paintings shows signs of deterioration and decay, fittingly reflecting the disturbed psychological states of the individuals portrayed.
Inspired by the introverted culture of public transit and inhabitants of the Tenderloin neighbourhood of San Francisco, “Waiting” began way back in 2001. The figures and places in the series are based on photographs the artist has taken of ordinary city architecture and random people whom he sees on a daily basis but never speaks to, particularly commuters who are seemingly detached from their fellow passengers and surrounding environments. Brett feels especially drawn to individuals who look lost, lonely or awkward—those who don’t appear to fit in socially.
He explains: “As the title suggests, the Waiting series is about how we rarely experience living in the now, always awaiting what will come next or obsessed with what has already transpired. In our age of distraction, being in the present is difficult to achieve outside of meditation practice, it requires heightened cognitive awareness and clear mental space, often prevented by constant internal dialogue, preoccupation with memories of the past and/or concern for the future.”
“Waiting” attempts to visually represent this disconnection and anticipation, conveying the idea of transient temporality that exists in most moments of our daily lives.
Brett Amory was born in 1975 in Chesapeake, Virginia. He has been based in the Bay Area of California for the past fifteen years. He initially lived in San Francisco—studying at the Academy of Art University—and relocated to Oakland in 2009. Brett launched his practice around the dot-com bust and 9/11, when the American Dream had grown distant for twenty-somethings and George Bush was leading a reluctant nation into battle. It is this world that shows up again and again in his work. The artist’s influences continue to evolve as does his technique. John Singer Sargent, Richard Schmid, Antonio López García, Alex Kanevsky, Jenny Saville, George Segal and Christoph Büchel are some of the names that have inspired him.
Brett’s recent solo exhibitions include This Too Shall Pass (Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco, CA), It’s Wonderful Your Demons Came Today (Jonathan LeVine, New Jersey, NY), American Monologue (Ft. Wayne Museum, Ft Wayne, Indiana) and Internal Dialogue (Lazarides Gallery, London). In 2016, he participated in group exhibitions at National Portrait Galleries in London and Scotland.
Links: Websites (www.brettamory.com, www.brettamorywaiting.com) | Facebook (www.facebook.com/BrettAmory) | Instagram (instagram.com/brettamory) | Saatchi Art (www.saatchiart.com/account/profile/313227)
Images used with permission.