Thursday, June 01, 2006

I Want Your Skull


Luke Brennan was born in the year of the dragon.
A 70's child raised by ex-hippies who turned to a god as a substitute. An abiding interest is the influence Religious doctrine, rituals and superstitions have on our worlds. Tribal communities and their pantheon of gods inform much of his work.
He is especially fascinated by the objects these groups employ to communicate and represent their spirits. Incorporating skulls, teeth, claws, fur, bones, dominos, cards and small curiosities into his work as talismans, Offerings and symbols, in a complex and private reworking of religious ritual. Not drawing from one specific tradition, creating his own language that he challenges you to decipher.
His mediums include sculpture, photography and film, But Painting remains a major concern. The primitive stylization of some of his work conger ideas of surreal cave drawings, often on found wood, in household paint. Often incorporating his works into larger installations, as in the show Handmade Patterns. Here the artist transformed the gallery and evoked powers into a hackney "squat".
Rastafarianism, Christianity, Islam and Voodoo rites converged. Alters sat in fire places, chicken and monkey heads were also used as channeling objects. His paintings described hybridized animals enacting human strengths, shortcomings and traits.
In an oversized multi- panelled painting titled 'say knowledge' a five headed cormorant with the body of a snake battles with a donkey holding the scales of justice, wearing the golden hide of lion, hawk, artic turn and deer. Two huge beasts, physically different, mentally the same - a link to an alternate reality, a mirror that shows the viewer the way Luke sees the world. In another painting from the same show a flayed sheep head with a collar of golden feathers becomes a snake. A Self portrait and homage to the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl.
Luke is self taught and has been a practicing artist for eight years, spending the past two and a half collaborating with Delaney Martin. Together they were producing site specific installations including last years large scale work at M+R place to fill, Trinity Falls. Increasing interest in total environments culminated in this labyrinth like installation. Most aptly described as a metaphysical American road trip. Trinity Falls included two mature lime trees, with root systems, suspended from the ceiling of the gallery along with a full size replica of a seedy motel room. This dark space took people inside a mind that isn't possible to access in such a physical way.
His collection of skulls and mummified animals began around age five. He has become adept at preserving and rendering the dead animals he finds; a sort of self-taught taxidermy that is not without it’s own rituals. Love of nature and wildlife plays a major part in his life and is reflected in the God like status placed upon them in his art. Only using dead animals he finds, or that are the result of processing meat for consumption.
Luke hopes to have the same honor as the animals he uses in his art and wants to be mummified and installed in an alter of his design and making at the time of his death
Gentlemen. The lamb of god is muzzled, so let us now speak freely.

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