AM DeBrincat’s hallucinatory and oddly beautiful solo show Delirious is on view now at 212 Arts Gallery. Eschewing the New York trend of displaying only a few pieces and offering the viewer mostly bare walls, 212 Arts has gone in the opposite direction, showcasing over 30 new paintings by the artist. As a result, the show feels like a visual feast.
In Delirious, AM DeBrincat’s work embraces its strangeness and offers beauty in its unexpected approach to figurative painting. Each painting contains one solitary figure. The figure is composed of digital photographs, and the face of each figure is torn out of the photo, leaving a jagged hole which DeBrincat fills with a lush, oil-painted rendering of the face. It feels as if each figure were wearing a brightly-painted mask of its own face.
The result is deeply arresting. When one views a large group of DeBrincat’s paintings side by side, the strangeness and beauty of the work is intensified. Entering 212 Arts Gallery, all the paintings seen together make the viewer feel like he is entering a silent, colorful masquerade ball.
AM DeBrincat’s deep engagement with the materials of art-making are striking to even the casual viewer. The paintings that line the walls of 212 Arts Gallery merge materials and techniques in surprising and unexpected ways. Most of the paintings are a unique mix of digital photographs – which DeBrincat sources from online image databases – and more traditional painting techniques. She applies acrylic paint in broad swaths of color that boldly bisect the canvas, or she covers the canvas with playful polka dots, engaging traditions of abstraction and patterning.
DeBrincat has a flair for combining patterns and textures, and a gifted eye for color. But the crown jewel of each canvas is the face. DeBrincat has an old-masters’ flair for applying oil pigment to canvas, and a deft hand for capturing the curve of a lip or the arch of an eyebrow with one smooth stroke of the brush.
If one has the opportunity to see the paintings up close, one gets a sense of how varied AM DeBrincat’s mark-making technique is. Some of the painted areas are smooth and flat. Some areas retain the juicy ridges of her brush, and the paint lies like pastel-colored frosting on the canvas. The portions of the canvas that are digital photography are flat and smooth, often in black and white that contrasts starkly with the colorful painted areas.
AM DeBrincat cleverly engages juxtaposition. She places digital imagery next to the handmade richness of painting. She is pitting photography against painting, forcing these two opposing forces to fight it out in every canvas. But the result is not conflict. Instead, the result is pure visual pleasure for the viewer.
In The Neptune Machine, for example, digital photographs of octopus tentacles curve towards the delicate, almost vulnerable painted face in the center of the canvas. The woman in the painting closes her eyes, lost in thought. The colors and textures of her painted face contrast with the monotone, cold digital tentacles. But through contrast comes richness. The painting is a complicated, sensuous visual reverie.
AM DeBrincat is in full command of the strange visual language that she has invented. Her work fully embraces the possibilities of what ‘mixed media’ can mean. She mines the richness that comes from interweaving photography, collage, abstract painting, and figurative painting all together in one canvas. There is no denying that it is a lot. In less capable hands, the result could be chaos. But with great risk comes great reward.
Fortunately, AM DeBrincat is in complete control of her unique visual language. The result is hallucinatory visual eye candy that lures the viewer in, and offers them layers of richness to explore.
AM DeBrincat’s solo show Delirious is on view now through 14 November 2018 at 212 Arts Gallery in New York.
Written by Peter Graves.
Featured images: AM DeBrincat - Harlequin, 2018. Oil and transfer print on canvas, 18 x 18 inches; AM DeBrincat, The Utopian, 2018. Oil, acrylic, and transfer print on wood panel, 30.48 x 30.48 cm. All images courtesy the author.
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