Guest Blogger Tina Aguilar teaches Humanities and Cultural Studies at Brookhaven College School of the Arts.
Dallas artist Brent Ozaeta’s new show at The Public Trust, “Introverted Floating World,” puts the digital realm into closer focus for viewers. Ozaeta’s obsession with filtering through constellations of imagery of Japanese culture, the digital landscape to be exact, allows his concepts about consumerism and media to expand. His work conjures up multiple screens and a kaleidoscope of holograms.
He discussed his paintings, fragmentation and inspirations this week at The Public Trust gallery and online as part of the Art&Seek Q&A:
Tina Aguilar: Talk to me about your inspirations for this work. I know you access a digital environment. How do you sift through the nature of this content?
Brent Ozaeta: It started as a hobby to see what was out there. It is one of the largest Japanese image boards. The image board I typically browse blindly. There is a translated version of the site that has English names for the categories, but the content is really a wild card because people can post anything they want and it may not get moderated. I feel that because I kind of have been looking at this site obsessively for so long I am a bit desensitized by any kind of graphic images.
T.A.: And what about your process? How long are you on your computer each day? You have a direct perspective on media culture.
B.O.: A new development with this recent work is the patterns and color. I did this work in Kid Pix, which is a drawing program (pre-Photoshop), and I have figured out how to emulate the image. The Kid Pix software has many versions or iterations. I’ve used a few different ones in the past, including the really old versions. For probably at least five to six hours at a time, I am consuming data, downloading and editing what I want to keep and parts of images. Yes, I feel like that is how artists work these days. They are trying to figure out what to use and create.
T.A.: I know you are working on different layers and explorations with your imagery. Why abstraction? Can you elaborate on how abstraction is important to you?
B.O.: I wanted to make more abstract paintings to further disrupt the images and forms. Abstraction happens as a result of all the processes I go through when making a composition. I appropriate the images at the beginning of the process, and by the end they have transformed to something not exactly the same. For example, I might draw a picture of a girl’s face. But when I draw it, I choose to leave out half of her face. That unexplainable quality is what I am searching for. It is like something that is taken completely out of context and seems to have no meaning. There is more of a mystery in the work. The output of particular paintings can comprise about 18 individual silkscreens with two colors.
T.A.: What about the colors? Is music involved in your creative process?
B.O.: In the piece, Since Yesterday, maybe it was the pocky packaging, a Japanese pretzel-like snack with coatings, around me. I wanted to repeat what were some of my selected imagery in Japanese culture and the images that reoccur while adding color – pink or strawberry pocky in this case. Actually, the title of this piece is from a song by the ’80s Scottish pop group called Strawberry Switchblades. I think of my titles when the work is done.
T.A.: When did you start creating or documenting visually? How long does it take to bring these paintings into being?
B.O.: Since I was about 6 years old I used to do doodles with images like the Ninja Turtles. In college at the University of Texas at Dallas was when I really started to concentrate on my art. I discovered for the first time artist Takashi Murakami. His imagery captured what I grew up with, and his work is cartoon in nature. I have always been drawn to animé and other childhood interests. It can take years to filter and collect, and I have three hard drives right now.
T.A. Do you have a favorite animé?
B.O.: Yes, a few. One is Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is about big robots.
T.A.: I like what you were explaining about your monoprints and adding a third color by hand. There is something about that tactile layer that intrigues me. You are marking your work in a way that makes it human from the digital point of origin.
B.O.: In the six-part monoprint set, the third tactile layer was intended to make them more unique. And yes, I wanted the hand-painted quality to juxtapose against the very Xeroxed nature of the screenprinted layers – hopefully creating some kind of art dialogue.
T.A.: Can you tell me what it was like winning the Clare Hart DeGolyer Memorial Fund award in 2007 and how it influenced your concept of being an artist? Would you like to travel?
B.O.: I received the DeGolyer grant in 2007 right as I was preparing to graduate from college. The timing was really perfect for me, because I was just preparing to work on large scale prints for a show for the end of the semester and it was going to be really expensive to produce. It definitely helped me out for that specific project but also gave me a sense of validation as an artist, in a way. I feel that was the most important part. I am interested in traveling. Particularly, I am most interested in Japan, as my work I feel is an investigation of its culture from an outsider’s viewpoint. I’ve visited Japan once for a short period, and I still value that experience greatly.
T.A.: Would you tell me the basic concept for your current zine project?
B.O.: The zine is more an ongoing creative exercise rather than a next project. I sometimes collaborate with friends on making them, but mostly I am doing this by myself – kind of as a study or draft of my new ideas – to see them on the page/in print. I appreciate the subculture aspect of the zine and also the practicality of it – a very affordable way for young artists to distribute/trade their art independently. I hope to work on making a really small edition of these zines with a silk-screened cover. This is going to be something to occupy me this summer. Also, I am planning on making smaller screenprint editions. These exercises help me get ideas for larger paintings. I am interested in seeing how my work will evolve.
T.A.: Have you ever posted any of your final compositions on the image board? To deposit it back from where it came?
B.O.: Hmm, that is interesting, actually. I haven’t thought of that yet.
The Public Trust gallery will hold a closing reception for “Introverted Floating World” May 29 from 6-9 p.m. In addition, Brent Ozaeta will donate his piece, The Way We Are, to the Dallas Contemporary for “Peek 2010” to be held Thursday.