Into the Wild

Painter/searcher peels back brain, blobs leak out

While he enjoys illustration, his heart belongs to fine art. He's particularly passionate about the 15th-century Flemish painters, and folk art. In 1997, the latter interest led him indirectly to the then-nascent Lowbrow movement, already a refuge (and marketing catchall) for unrepentant popists and neo-surrealists ranging from Robert Williams to Mark Ryden.

"One of the first things my agent said to me was, 'you need to find what you do best.' I spent the summer painting and painting and learned that I really enjoyed folk art. I traded canvas for wood and started exploring the possibilities--not with doing straight folk art, which would have been a bastardization--but just seeing how I could simplify things in a way similar to theirs. About the same time, I started to realize how big Lowbrow was in L.A, and that what I was doing was becoming popular."

Enough, it seems, to land him a place in this year's annual group exhibition at La Luz de Jesus--birthplace of the movement and the gallery that inspired Tom Hazelmyer to open Ox-Op. There, Brewer's work will be shown alongside the exalted likes of Tim Biskup, Gary Baseman, and Shag. Sadly, the blobs upstairs will spend some time there before we get so much as a glimpse of them--unless he generates more in the interim, a prospect that seems pretty likely.

"I came across them [the blobs] while preparing very quickly for a show with 90 pieces," he says. "The possibilities of something round and serpentine that could spread, break up, feather out--do all these different things--intrigued me from the minute I discovered them. I was just playing. Plus, I'm sick of everyone else's Unknown, the typical skinny, big-eyed aliens and whatnot. I'd rather make my own."

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