Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brian Despain

I don't remember when I learned about Brian Despain's fun and poignant artwork but I have loved his paintings for quite a while. I've been meaning to share them but things kept getting in the way. But during this past month, both and Lines and Colors have done profiles on Brian so I figured it was about time I did my own.

Brian's artwork is filled with fish and robots and gears and robots and birds and robots. And did I mention robots. Best known for his series of images portraying robots interacting with both the natural and the man-made world, his artwork has a wonderful mix of technology and emotion. These are not just mechanical creatures that respond to commands. Many of his robots are contemplating, reacting, and exploring. They are emotional and curious. And they are all incredibly rendered.

Using a muted palette of greys and browns, Brian creates a world that is recognizable but a bit surreal. Fish flow from robots' chests. Robots talk with pears and hummingbirds. One odd imaged offered a robot striding through town with a giant octopus for a hat. Each creature in Brian's paintings are detailed, down to the bolts on the robots and the scales on the fish. The images are sharp even if the backgrounds are a bit muted. But the real power of Brian's work for me is the emotion. His robots are surprised or amused or curious. It seems clear though both facial expressions and body language. Or perhaps that is me anthropomorphizing.

Each robot or creature is unique. His creations are each numbered to show their place in the series. These are not sequential though. One of the first images chronologically is robot number 29, seen below, in an image called Mr. Bubble's Birthday. This is a perfect example of the detail and emotion I was talking about. This has to be one of my favorites.

Brian's work has become incredibly popular recently and there are even cell phone skins with his images on them. I'm seriously thinking about picking up one of his laptop covers for my old laptop. And of course I need to pick up a print of his work one of these days. The hardest part will be choosing which incredible image to purchase. There are just too many I want. Fun, sad, poignant, and beautiful robots. What more could any girl want?

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