Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Special Events // "Before I Hide Away" by Brandi Milne

"I Couldn't Do a Thing For You" Acrylic on Wood,  22"x 26" - 2012
When I entered the gallery space at Corey Helford Gallery to see "BEFORE I HIDE AWAY" the most recent body of work by Southern California artist Brandi Milne, I let out an audible "woah," an involuntary response to the bright lights of the gallery illuminating a room full of highly emotive, incredibly stylized paintings. Some of which were surprisingly large and impactful, others were smaller, requiring you to get close for a more intimate view. I was giddy with excitement to see what this show had i store.

The first piece i was lucky enough to get close to was a smaller painting featuring a gloomy skeleton figure inspecting and a disembodied heart. At first glance i marveled the expressive sadness of the piece, and then picked out all the delicate details - the labeling of the parts of the heart, the tiny tools, and the script on the binding on the medical books... just beautiful work. When I saw the title of the piece "I couldn't do a thing to help you," it gave me a small pit in my stomach because I related it back to several experiences I've had with people in my life. It reminded me of that helpless feeling when someone who you love is struggling, and you'd give anything to do something to change it, but it's just beyond your control. It's often difficult to process artwork while you're at an opening reception, but this piece struck me very quickly, and set the mood for a very revealing body of work from Milne.

Detail of "I Couldn't Do a Thing For You" Acrylic on Wood,  22"x26" - 2012 
"Did You See Me?" Acrylic on Wood,  22"x 30" - 2012

Gallery View of "Did You See Me?" Acrylic on Wood,  22"x 30" - 2012
"Here Alone With You" Acrylic on Wood,  24"x 36" - 2012
The Painting "Here Alone With You," a beautiful depiction of a character who looks similar to Brandi listening to an old phonograph - evokes the feeling of haunting memories and the way we connect sounds, smells and objects with the people and places and times we love. These markers are powerful in that they hold the spirit of that particular time and place or person and can transport you back in your memory to a space that now only exists in our mind. Seeing this girl living in a place in her mind where these things are once again real (even if only momentarily) still haunts me because a source of personal sadness for myself is the constant reminder that nothing in life is permanent, which can be difficult to accept when you have to have to say goodbye and move forward in space and time.

"Before I Hide Away" Acrylic on Wood,  42"x 50" - 2012
One of the most uplifting elements of Brandi's work is the underlying theme of friendship and support. her closest friends infiltrate her imagery and she illustrates them in a loving and whimsical way (see the Lola Gill Character below with her cat). Brandi may be working out some of her sadness about the new geographic distance between her and her closest friend... But she's also painting a picture for the world where females exist in each others lives adoring and supporting and uplifting one another... without the typical toxins of jealousy, pride, arrogance and sometimes even malicious hatred that girls have perpetuated against each other since the evolution of the vagina. I was moved by her dedication to friendship in this painting, which gives me faith that no matter the circumstances, love will prevail over all. 

Lola Inspired detail of "Before I Hide Away" Acrylic on Wood,  42"x 50" - 2012
Dramatic detail of  the figure's tearful face in "Before I Hide Away" Acrylic on Wood,  42"x 50" - 2012
"The Telling Tale" Acrylic on Wood,  36"x 24" - 2012
"I Dont Hear You Anymore" Acrylic on Wood,  42.25"x 30" - 2012
"3" Acrylic on Wood,  16"x 20" - 2012
"How Can I Shine Without You?" Acrylic on Wood,  46"x 36" - 2012
"How Can I Shine Without You?" was another powerful piece for me, that brought forward my own personal emotions about my support system. How important relationships are in our lives, especially the people we count on for validation in times of need, for unconditional love and acceptance, and undying support. It took me most of my life to figure out who those people are for me... and they are few and far between... Very special humans indeed. They encourage me be free even when it that freedom i fear most. The thought of having to do without them is truly unbearable (pardon the bear pun). 

"Spun In The Shadows" Acrylic on Wood, 16"x20" - 2012 
"Alone" Acrylic on Wood,  20"x 24" - 2012
"Whisper Them To Me" Acrylic on Wood,  14"x 18" - 2012
"Before I Hide Away" turned to be much more personally emotional than i had expected, as if each painting was telling a tale that paralleled my own life. Her muted color palette and surrealist compositions were exceptionally beautiful. The subject matter was poignant and seemed incredibly personal. Every strand of hair was equally expressive and delicate. in simple terms. she fucking killed it.    

Brandi Milne herself looking stunning as ever
Having the pleasure of meeting Brandi in person on a few occasions has given me a real insight to what a kind-hearted and radiant person she is. She's gorgeous and ridiculously talented, and somehow maintains an innocent cuteness that makes her seem very warm and approachable... like we could be friends (I know get in in line right?)

Joy and merriment was had by Brandi's friends and family
this elegantly designed catalog was a perfect souvenir so I could study each piece in my own time
This passage inside Brandi's catalog (personalized for me) is especially inspiring an a perfect summary of the show: "In the past two years i've experienced love,  loss,  new friendships and more freedoms that have helped me grow as a person and as an artist, In this new series of paintings I have pushed myself to reach outside my comfort level and find that next layer of artistic freedom. " -Brandi
Quotes from the press release:

“Before I Hide Away,” is Milne’s third solo exhibition at Corey Helford Gallery and her most revealing to date. The exhibition will be on view through September 5, 2012.

Inspired by love, loss and letting go, “Before I Hide Away” is a memoir about moving forward and following one’s heart, despite life’s challenges. For the exhibition, Milne unveils her first body of work without ink outlines as well as a more spontaneous painting process than before, yielding freedom and growth for the artist. “My aesthetic for this show is a little different than previous shows,” Milne says. “This body of work is a literal description of letting go of control emotionally and artistically. I’ve left each and every painting to be guided by my truest emotion at the time of working on it.”

Milne describes her latest series as a circus in the snow. For the fourteen paintings in the exhibition, Milne refines her palette, highlighting muted tones as opposed to candy-like colors from past works. Her new thematic and aesthetic direction is evident in the painting “She Wears The Trees In Her Hair and The Clouds In Her Eyes.” Against a backdrop of salmon pinks, teals and grays, three figures on a horse celebrate their final days together as their friendship moves apart at the height of their closeness. Milne adds, “I feel that this new work is a giant step into a more mature world for me. My work is always guided by my personal life and emotions, there’s always a narrative and parallel of what I’m facing in life.”

Stay tuned because in 2013, she will be releasing her first art book entitled “Frohlich.” :) For more information about the artist, please visit brandimilne.com.

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