New American Paintings/Blog


WESTERN PROJECT’s Brian Porray by New American Paintings
May 22, 2012, 11:00 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , ,

The wide open space of Culver City’s WESTERN PROJECT is the perfect white-walled arena for Brian Porray’s (NAP #84 and #87) looming, neon, psychedelic architectural landscapes. – Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Walking into the gallery, the viewer is met with such massive, loud, and bright paintings that a really engaging and interactive experience begins immediately. Porray, who was born and raised in Las Vegas, based this entire solo show “–(\DARKHOR5E/)–” on his psychological interpretations of and experiences around the city’s Luxor Hotel.


Brian Porray | –(\DARKHOR5E/)–, synthetic polymer, spray paint, paper on canvas (three parts), 96″ x 216 inches.


Brian Porray | Untitled (Triangle Cluster), 2012, acrylic, enamel, paper, mixed media on canvas, 36 inch Equilateral Triangle AND V4S9()C()NSTYKT()R, 2011, synthetic polymer, spray paint, paper on canvas, 80 x 60 inches.

Like the city itself, Porray’s works mimic and recall the overwhelming sights and sounds of Vegas, with neons so bright that we really need another word to aptly describe them. The central pyramidal or triangular theme is apparent immediately, but in each painting, different aspects of this city and architectural presence are drawn out or highlighted (as with works such as \/|L1NUS SP4CEH4DV/|/, /||BL4CK()UT||\, {3MPTYS3T}, or the show’s title piece –(\DARKHOR5E/)–.


Brian Porray | –(\DARKHOR5E/)–, DETAIL

Porray uses many mixed medium, paint, and collage techniques to create a loud and not entirely uniform surface that sometimes recalls computerized graphics from an 80’s computer.  At other times though, spray painted graffiti and detailed paintings bring the hand of the artist to the forefront, reminding us that these images are not fully digitized (as their cyperspace “leet” computer hacker titles might otherwise suggest).


Brian Porray | –(\DARKHOR5E/)–, DETAIL

Brian Porray | {3MPTYS3T}, 2012, synthetic polymer, spray paint, paper, and tape on canvas, 72″ x 72″ – DETAIL.

With such massive paintings (the largest being 96” x 216” – or approximately 18 feet across), I always tend to hone in on very specific details of a work.  And this was definitely the case with Porray’s show.  I fell in love with little portions of the works where painting and pixels met.  Part collage, part painting, part psychedelic playground for your eyes, Porray’s works created magic, inescapable moments for me to dive into head first and experience at a heightened and surreal level.


Brian Porray |  –+–H3AT D3V1L–+–, 2012, synthetic polymer, spray paint, paper on canvas.

Brian Porray | –+–H3AT D3V1L–+–, DETAIL

Brian Porray | –+–H3AT D3V1L–+–, DETAIL

The intensity of deep, rich, bright, and loudly colored archway next to the pyramid in “–+–H3AT D3V1L–+–” beckoned me to enter this mad world at least just for a bit. Like Alice’s rabbit hole, or Dorothy’s yellow brick road, Porray’s work calls to that inquisitive and insatiable side of youth.  And in fact, it seemed to me that the combined worlds of the “Wizard of Oz” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” reside somewhere in here. (Sometimes called the “Dark Side of Oz,” there is old lore that you can start watching a silenced “Wizard of Oz” to Pink Floyd’s album “Dark Side of the Moon” if you start the music when MGM’s lion sounds its third roar…) And something about Porray’s work recalled this same feeling, mode, and urge for psychological wanderings.


Brian Porray | Untitled (Triangles), 2012, acrylic, enamel, paper, mixed media on canvas, 36 inch Equilateral Triangle AND \/\L1NUS SP4CEHE4D/\/, 2012, synthetic polymer, spray paint, paper, tape on panel.

In a happenstance architectural coincidence or keenly intelligent installation move on the part of WESTERN PROJECT’s gallerists, Porray’s 36” equilateral untitled painted triangles mimic the shapes of the gallery’s geometric sunroof, creating another subtle moment of the show that I enjoyed immensely.


Brian Porray | {3MPTYS3T} AND Untitled (Triangle Cluster)

In short, Porray created a world that I wanted to explore and experience.  He shifted my views and perceptions, if only briefly one Friday afternoon.  My guess is that like Vegas, viewers will either love it or hate it.  But I definitely recommend giving both a chance to decide for yourself.

Brian Porray lives and works in Claremont, California and he is a 2012 Fellow at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.  His work has been acquired by the Pizzuti Collection and has shown across the United States. –(\DARKHOR5E/)– at WESTERN PROJECT through June 23rd.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer. (All photos Copyright Ellen C. Caldwell)

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