Jesse Bransford: Recent Work
May 21, 2005 - June 17, 2005

Artist Biography

Press Releases
Jesse Bransford: Recent Work

JESSE BRANSFORD: Recent Work

 

May 21st - June 17th, 2005

 

SHAHEEN Modern and Contemporary Art is delighted to announce an exhibition of recent work by 33 year-old New York based artist Jesse Bransford.  There will be an opening reception for the artist on Saturday, May 21st from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  The exhibition will continue through June 17th.

 

Rendered in crisp graphic fashion, and incorporating a variety of drawing media, Bransford's striking and exquisitely executed large-scale works on paper draw upon, juxtapose and conflate an extraordinary array of historical, scientific, sub-cultural, socio-political, science-fictional, cultural and art historical traditions and influences, as well as a broad spectrum of visual styles and modes of image production.  By combining and re-contextualizing elements culled from such a wide variety of sources, most of which are at historical odds with one another, and many of which have long since been marginalized or disregarded as irrelevant, underlying narratives and dialogues begin to arise, mutate and multiply.

 

The works comprising Bransford's first one person exhibition in the Midwest will mark the completion of a loosely associated series that began in early 2004. These works represent the artist's attempt to explore and address pictorial and conceptual ideas involving humankind's relationship to intangibles and, more specifically, to the concepts of the cosmos and infinity.  Images comprising any single piece are mined from a variety of sources including alchemy, material science, science fiction, fantasy and the occult, all of which have extensive histories, and all of which make extensive use of diagrams and pictorial languages to describe their systems of knowledge and belief.  In rendering his sophisticated compositions, Bransford calls on and combines prevalent stylistic elements of Art Nouveau, medieval woodcut / woodblock printmaking, and material science's visual presentation of celestial phenomena.  By combining and conflating these disparate visual languages in the service of synthesizing a diverse spectrum of imagery, the artist aims to suggest new relationships that span across time and place and challenge traditional notions of order, power and humanity's orientation in space and time.  In the same visual breath, Bransford successfully illustrates humanity's ongoing inability to adequately depict infinity.

 

Over the past five years Jesse Bransford's work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions/projects at the UCLA Hammer Museum and Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art.  His work has been exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions at galleries and museums in both the U.S. and abroad.  Bransford's work will be profiled in Phaidon Press's forthcoming book entitled Vitamin D.

 


Articles/Reviews
A painter gathers great thinkers / The Plain Dealer

A painter gathers great thinkers of the past to say something new

 

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Plain Dealer

 

Dan Tranberg

 

It could be argued that many of us live in a secularized world in which the gods of the past have been replaced with an ever-changing mythological cast of popular icons.

 

For artist Jesse Bransford of Brooklyn, N.Y., this group included great poets and intellectuals of the past 150 years such as Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Walter Benjamin and Jean-Paul Sartre.  Bransford portrays these and more than a dozen other such figures in a series of graphical portraits as part of a solo exhibition at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art, on view through Friday, June 17.

 

Each of these small works on paper is painted a solid color, which is not repeated in any other portrait, suggesting that they are color-coded in a system known only to the artist.  The image of Rimbaud, for instance, is a warm reddish-brown.  Sartre is a cool steely-blue.

 

Arranged in a straight line along the largest wall in the gallery, they stand like Bransford's personal pantheon. 

 

Filling the rest of the gallery are much larger works on paper, which represent cryptic diagrammatic systems, often including figures from vastly different time periods, as well as vaguely astrological symbols, geometric patterns and imagery that recall the game Dungeons and Dragons.

 

Through his process of merging such mysteriously assembled imagery, Bransford suggests a mythology of his own creation, one in which each element presumably represents something.  As viewers, we can try to dissect his systems of iconography in search of patterns or meanings, but their cryptic nature suggests a different read: an expression of the idea that each of us constructs his own mythology, which may or may not be shared with others.

 

His technique supports this idea: his images are painted in a graphical manner that recalls mass-produced silk-screen prints (or in some cases, wood-block prints), yet they also contain clear evidence of being painted by hand.  In other words, his approach demonstrates a confluence of standardization and personalization, echoing the dichotomies inherent in much of his imagery and emphasizing the coexistence of individual and universal symbols.

 

Bransford, who was born in Atlanta in 1972, earned two undergraduate degrees in 1996, one in painting from Parsons School of Design and another in the history of science from The New School for Social Research, New York.  He then went on to earn a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University in 2000.

 

He belongs to a generation of artists who began to receive national attention after being included in the first "Greater New York Show" at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center on Long Island in 2000.  The same year, he was featured in a memorable group show at Shaheen, titled "Paper Trail, Pt. 1," which spotlighted emerging national and international artists.

 

His approach to art, like that of many of his contemporaries, asserts a highly personalized view of the world, marking a dramatic shift from the distinctly depersonalized work of much of the art of recent decades. 

 

Although it may be a leap to assume that Bransford's generation is creating something that will soon be viewed as a movement, his work certainly suggests that young artists are once again declaring their own sets of rules, creating their own mythologies from the vast history of intellectual activity.

 

As such, Bransford's exhibition (his first solo show in the Midwest) is an exciting and powerful display of new art.

 

Jess Bransford - on view / Cleveland Scene

On View

Cleveland Scene

Published: June 15, 2005

 

Jesse Bransford: Recent Work -- Obscure, unappreciated intellectuals are Bransford's favorite people, their achievements his most cherished subjects. The young Atlanta-born, New York-based artist, whose show of recent drawings at Shaheen is his first solo exhibition, takes inspiration from thinkers whose accomplishments or ideas were ignored or even discredited in their day, often importing motifs from their work into his own. The thematic material in "Lycanthrope" seems lifted right out of a secret medieval manuscript. It's a scene of biblical devastation; the ground swallows up churches and homes, while a werewolf-like creature wielding flame and sword grimaces in delight. Where Bransford is going with this is anyone's guess. In "Merlin and the Dragon," a grizzled old man in a cloak hobbles along an astronomical chart toward a magicallooking tree. Bransford's style lends the image an ancient appearance, similar to that of an old woodcut; tweak a few details, and it would be perfect for a Tolkien edition. With "Wobble," Bransford seems taken with the notion that the universe is doughnut-shaped, and he replicates a diagram that proves it -- complete with vague measurements in Latin and a geometric outline. The artist then skips forward a few hundred years in a series of monochrome portraits of the great 20th-century intellectuals, drawing a quaint link between the ancient mystics and thinkers like Foucault, Sartre, and Rimbaud. They're drawings, but they look like silk-screen prints -- single colors against white backgrounds. Bransford's imagination is active and his knowledge is wide, but the conceptual foundation for his art here lacks sufficient substance. Until June 17 at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art, 740 W. Superior Ave., 216-830-8888, www.shaheengallery.com.

-- Zachary Lewis

Jesse Bransford
Merlin and the Dragon, 2005
acrylic and graphite on paper
47 x 75 inches

Jesse Bransford
installation view, 2005




Jesse Bransford
installation view, 2005



Jesse Bransford
installation view, 2005




Jesse Bransford
Sun Death, 2005
acrylic, watercolor, graphite and ink on paper
14 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches

Jesse Bransford
Mavors Adamasto, 2006
acrylic, watercolor, graphite and ink on paper
14 1/4 x 23 1/2 inches


Jesse Bransford
Utopia / Mirror, 2005
acrylic and graphite on paper
38 x 50 inches

Jesse Bransford
Lycanthrope, 2005
acrylic, watercolor and graphite on paper
38 x 50 inches


Jesse Bransford
The Light and the Darkness, 2005
acrylic and graphite on paper
47 x 75 inches

Jesse Bransford
Snakes and Ladders, 2005
acrylic and graphite on paper
37 x 60 inches


Jesse Bransford
Wobble, 2005
acrylic and graphite on paper
35 x 70 inches