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A Magazine for Sheffield

Brendan Monroe: Caught in Motion

It’s always nice to finish printing for summer with a bright and colourful art submission, which has been duly delivered by Oakland, California-based multi-method artist Brendan Monroe. It was Brendan’s newest work - deep, wavy lines mapping out imaginary terrain - which first caught our attention, but he is currently working on a series of ceramic sculptures for an exhibition in San Francisco, and is always seeking out new mediums for new ideas. Your style and subjects have changed a lot over the years, from creature-based stuff to using oscillating lines to create depth and dimension. How did this transition take place? There’s a lot of work that’s gone in between. It’s been about ten years since I finished art school and started working. I’ve always been into biological forms of one type or another and it usually goes in different ways along those lines. There's more of a microscopic approach in your recent work, evoking blood cells, synapses and muscles. It's like you've 'zoomed in'. I’m glad you think so. Actually it used to be even more human and cell-like. The most recent work holds onto those things a bit, but I think abstracts the subject into more broken-down shapes. I just like paying attention to forms that can be alive and caught in motion. I loved the mural you did with Candy Bird in Taipei recently. Do you want to move more into painting walls? Thanks a lot. Yeah, I really like painting walls. I like new challenges and murals are a really good one. I think there’s a lot of art making that goes into the part of actually figuring out how to make it happen on a large scale. It’s a really satisfying way of putting work out there too, I think because the results are very immediate. With work for a gallery, it’s done in the studio and doesn’t get seen for months before it’s revealed. Do you find the working process and interaction with the public affects the final piece? I’m not so sure how much the public interaction goes into the final piece. It’s great to have people come by and talk while working. I like that part a lot. I think the thing that most adds and works its way into the final piece is working near and around other muralists. The mural artists I’ve met have all been rad and welcoming with tips and advice. That’s been one of the biggest benefits to working on these projects. There’s so much mutual support going on. Are sculptures and physical objects a new venture for you or have you been doing them for a while? I’ve been doing sculpture a long time too. Recently I’ve gotten into ceramics. It’s really fun because I’ve been working with Heath, a company in the Bay Area, and they have so many resources to work with. They’ve got a library of clay and glaze formulas that I can just pick and choose from to work with. It’s been pretty amazing. Has working in 3D fed into that sense of depth in your paintings? I think they feed each other well. The paintings influence the sculpture and vice versa. Everything comes out of drawing first in some way. How do you create work for your zines? It’s always different. Some of them are planned narrative stories or themed groups of drawings and others are just compilations. They’re often only xeroxed too. The drawings might never be scanned. They only exist in my sketches and xeroxes. What new medium do you want to try next? Oh man, I don’t know. Maybe metal would be really cool. I’d like to get into casting bronze, or actually casting of other random materials might be cool too. Cement I think would be interesting, or industrial insulation foam. Wood is always fun to work with and I have for a long time, but I think large wood working would almost be a whole new medium too. What are your plans for the rest of 2015? Right now I’m deep into preparing for my ceramic sculpture show at Heath, San Francisco. It opens in September. Also a few more murals planned that I’m excited about. Background Photo by Brandon Shigeta [imagebrowser id=59] )

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