Brian Oschwald ART         Ideas, Intentions, Means & Results    

(scruffy, occasional notes)


The Noirest of my Betes. Here’s the thing —ART IS NOT A SEDATIVE FOR THE THE RICH   -although in history it may always have appeared to be just that.     Art !   of every kind   ART,  the most targeted zone of entitled ownership for the nonce enthusiasms of the 'smart' people, with their momentary enthusiasms, their planet-sucking narcotic comforts,  their upholstered soul-suffocating worlds.  Yea, right. However, I push on toward forgiving nearly anyone;   Art encourages it.

If / when a painting is not some illustration of an existing story -  resist inventing a story that the painting might  serve as an illustration of.  To do otherwise is more a way of looking away from the painting than of looking at it, boldly living with & into the work itself in all of its uncooperative mystery.  Refrain from using the painting as a mere means to 'free-associate'.   Welcome then to the tensions you are left to feel: the discomfiting, exhilarating,  probing world of the maker, where Art & art-making mostly involves the process of making personal art- - not dishing up some anxiously conceived, monetisable product.  Most Art, and personal art-making greatly entails questions above all, not immediate or even eventual answers or consolations. Art changes no force that threatens the world.

Compelling as serious art  encounters may be,  it is existentially pointless for the wise to expect or demand life-strengthening clarity, cultural certainty, or wayward spiritual consolation from the art object itself.  An art image, an art experience is just a doorway to a larger self finally brought about only through an ever deeper connection with other people. In each other -not in things- is the meaning we crave.  Art of any kind -in a limited way- can enable one to willingly migrate toward that truth.


History & the Future

  • father: near-blind architect w/zero emotion. mother? - a co-depedant-ish bible chorister

  • i've always loved being read to

  • everyday i choose clothing for the the world i see inside and the music I hear inside if I don't paint.. still I ponder materials, texture, color, and design, season by season there is no greater source of aesthetic wisdom apart from nature than world ethnic fabric traditions

  • interests & exposure: history-hunger, academic philosophy suspicion, industrial design addiction, world-ethnic fabric cravings, traditional music longing, rose gardening discipline, cooking around & sometimes even past "healthy"

  • a [tendentiously] plausible future: impatient, searching color, nearly reckless GEO-storms of gestation, and strength well beyond all necessary 'breakdowns', up new pathways (sometimes placid, sometimes ominous) to a reassembled heart, toward the better (though often quixotic) conditions of breakthrough and well-reckoned transformation

  • wellness alert ! i notice in myself a dizziness that occurs when writing about art (especially mine). This froggy feeling emerges from a sense of the looming risk of over-simplification or empurpled over-statement that accompanies the embarrassing freedom that artists claim to suggest world defining values and meaning.

  • Motivation, Audience

  • perhaps the committed art pilgrim murmurs & hopes "move me" move me deeper into myself, into what's worth living for...

  • can I engage peripatetic viewer-collectors who scrutinize, think, study, and query the maker & others about what they notice in life, and qualify as art-worthy subjects of delectation, meditation, and debate ?

  • may i elaborate the threshold ? i long to 'place" what I make, not merely 'sell' it

  • shall i impatiently disturb / disrupt complacency with fresh astonishment, breathing the light of unique color toward a viewer's fascination with the image, offering- in essence- a magnetic, livable, unavoidable, and seriously rewarding experience -tingling the spine in anticipation of possession (and lonely meditative viewing)?

  • without overreach ( fighting the "artiste's" predictably defensive sense of self-importance) this art may & should exist to protect, enable, and champion the nearly measurable conditions of human-cultural flourishing

  • i am not afraid to contradict myself. i'm not afraId of things broken -then glued back together (after all, this is life for most people, isn't it?)

  • It is tremendously hard to overcome business-world illusions that benefit one personally. overcoming ego (that endless force ready to subvert civic & fellow-feeling) is a gigantic spiritual leap (always darkly spring-loaded to snap backward) the Ego: it is mountainous, it is totally exasperating. there no other terms for its destructive side consequences

  • what is my now-ness? here: every day standing open to sudden, often unwelcome insights, the exuberant play of insinuating nuances newly defining the 'remote' and the 'familiar'

  • capture ideas (prose) & feeling (poetry) emanating from long standing curiosities, battles & daily diplomacies

  • scuba dive a deeper sea of absorption in the work process itself, free of any presumed destination or specific 'explainable' result

  • each artwork here is an end in itself without reference to any external cultural project, standing solely on its capacity to garner notice, appreciation, returning the viewer to a self illuminated by emergent self-honesty

  • transcend life's daily MSG-marinated anarchies, the white noise of life, to notice, protect & expand single passing moments when noticing becomes numinous -by aesthetic absorption, to capture in my bloods’ warm longing, in images irreplaceable, in common experiences of any small treasure seen large.

Influences & Appreciations

  • writers:   Rumi, Pasternak, Rilke, Woolf, Walser, Nabokov, Stevens, Sebald, Hitchens, Sam Harris

  • music: most early & classical, no trivial amount of jazz, miniscule pop, all world, folk and ethnic musics,  lute, viola da Gamba, the harp, woodwinds and bagpipe music

  • painters: Turner, Rothko, Olitski, Morandi, Diebenkorn, 'wabi-sab'i,  many more

  • architects: MacIntosh, Wright, Kahn, Scarpa a few more

  • architectural sculptors: David Smith, Chaleda, Schwitters, and a few others

Theory   (Theoria = Contemplation, classically understood)       but...what's "the point" of  'theory'?

  • of a painting: meaning leaps toward understanding when the 'what' (subject) & the 'how' (methods)) are in alignment

  • immediately, directly, by allusion and implication, beauty is real and crucial everywhere now and in all of history ugliness? thoughtful viewers gradually intuit that surface ugliness is a severe existential gateway to 'soul composting, offering odd unexpected healing or mitigation of fear, anxiety about our mortality, toward an emotionally disillusioned renewal at the deepest level of human selfhood

  • STRUCTURE: my understanding recognizes this in all art matters -- this personal, generative X/Y Framework : X is "Prospect" / Y is "Aspect": 1) Prospect (X):= IDEAS emerging from the artists own lived social-cultural experience and judgement - the artist's conscious, rational viewpoint as to his labors time-bound cultural sympathies, focus, depth, breadth, hindsight, and foresight 2) Aspect: (y) = all the visual, constructive style elements and evident effects of any kind whatever: derivative appropriation,accidental techniques & unique personal treatments: means, methods: color, support materials, composition, shapes, sizes, textures, X & Y are the two basic interdependent structural realms of this art, a matrix of self affimation and self scepticism

  • art accomplishments gradually earn their status as valuable reckonings of world-making when the work embodies compelling personal aesthetic evidence over time and circumstance for an inclusive variety of committed viewers

  • an art experience involves tacit knowledge, suggesting ongoing investigation by the maker and viewers as to how meaning and value are credibly birthed from raw materials + passionate labor (in so many astonishing ways, across history (histories) & cultures).

  • offering an art work & expecting to convey a specific meaning, or specific kinds of presumptively sharable meanings invites disappointment. is it possible to ignore this ?

  • re-appropriate an alternative role for Art in our culture i.e. to mitigate suffocating consumerism complacency and cynicism (at any degree of subtlety, with their pulpy muscles -deary timid & sad ] while declaiming any philosophically regressive assertions of Arts' vaunted agency as 'consolation & redemption' in just that conflicted cultural crucible is the uncomfortable place where we can most deeply learn, and come to be more fully alive in both our aesthetic joys and our existential disappointments Keats called that the place of ---(counter intuitive term)--- 'Negative Capability' -- being decidedly suspended between opposing truth claims without anxious concession to either claim

  • intellectual probity throughout

Research & Development

  • notice notice notice attention leads to devotion and illumination of new habitable landscapes previously shrouded in lazy if not willful obscurity

  • not without at least some humor --- a promising art soil is a lonely mind at ease with all kinds of uncertainty conceding that sanitized post-facto, spring-loaded story-making is specious

  • art-making - a playfully-serious way to hope, cope, contribute & honor imperfect individual subjectivity, and our thin-ish, gloaming collective life, now

  • each work begins with wayward record keeping / sleepwalking research into longings repetitive or never before encountered

  • references: garden composting, metallurgy, demolition, the hoped-for transmutation of mystery into recognition, thought into substance

  • studies & models: rapid configuring of short-term prescience & fleeting entitlement

Subject matter:  Evocations

  • beauty and decay -layered, scumbled [as signature]

  • beckoning, nearly inscrutable instances of subtlety overlooked

  • gusting veils that tempt or hide, mists, fogs & scrims that demure

  • meditation: new dimensions of useful affect beyond familiar strident emotions

  • archeology & civil engineering murmured

  • remoteness & familiarity revisited: the collective unconsciousness honored, the aboriginal gene pool, the dark and beckoning "UR"

  • geometry and the detail of garden rooms: innocence and deep place-making in the threatened outer world of our civilization-sick present

  • sensing the city, the neighborhood of dubious self-knowledge & self-esteem beneath the 'urban thrall' of my surface self-mage

  • from landscapes to IN-scape toward the GEO-figuration of the self newly imagined beyond the body

Studio Process, Methods, and Materials

  • oblique intentionality: accidents, mistakes and unforeseen discoveries greatly figure, that emerge from 'well planned' goings-astray, allowing spaces to exist where markings occur without hesitation or expectation

  • instrumental music practiced while viewing visual works in progress

  • (recently, I've learned to use my carrot peeler swiping it in both direction!s wow, who knew)

  • oils, or mixed media on wood panel

  • being clear about competing virtues: view presumed certainties through lenses that distort or over-sharpen

  • sonic involvement: hearing the sound of my scraping palette knife / the brush wet or dry. allow the scratchy humble pencil stub to have its say

  • sculpture: material & constructs about architecture as reassurance -not pride, architecture - its brooding cycles of pride, origination and decay

Composition, form, and Pattern

  • pattern recognition of GEO forms & shapes warm not cold, soft not hard, suggestive not defined, invitational not aggressive, insinuating not demanding, poetic not clinical, of music not of warning, intuitive not imposed

  • ordering devices (ideas: kits & cases that hold), measuring devices, storage & filing systems as memory banks

  • varieties of symmetry and the centripetal forces of anti-symmetry

  • horizontal fields and networks are earthy / human. vertical designs aspire

  • hand tools that reach, grasp, shape, sever or bind

  • rhythmic loops / visually connective sinews & tissue knitted together as visual fabric: prospective worlds & local repair campaigns in small mental neighborhoods

Color, Texture

  • bright palette or dark. pastels or dusty jewel-tones, colors mixed directly on surface: layered, excavated, scumbled rough /irresistibly suggestive

  • well broken color: zones & levels of consciousness about adventuring and absorption

  • visual and thematic translucence & transparency, squirmy overlappings / like "crabs in a basket" - Justine / Durrell

Meaning:   Resistance & Resilience

  • believe that what is necessary is possible, then double down on being fully human, living large in a non-partitioned mind

  • aware of social fragmentation, and the relentless trivialization of historical perspective and emotional honesty, we turn away from the mounting distraction, we inwardly return home to our unique understanding of how value is birthed; where responsibility for value and meaning-creation in our lives resides in our ourselves: how? (think oikos (greek): assembling available raw materials -mixing those with passionate labor is the essence of world-building

  • world repair happens through all processes similar to art based self-making.

  • it seems that at the greatest moments of tension & promise in creating or viewing an artwork [i.e. a precious 'canister' of useful darkness and dream ] the art work ceases to be about its obvious characteristics but instead emerges as a magnetic invitation to feel and have an expanded self, ever more inclined to live large

  • the collection of works here aspires to rise above its effects to emblematically suggest conditions of human flourishing

  • hear me raw: this artist works (yet indifferently) to be free of the need to explain anything, while the viewer -fully engaged and dis-interested- permits the artist this specific essential freedom. it's a shared grace in soul-making, flush with intimations of creaturely & trans-sensual- kinship

  • opposing self overreach, and of a chastened optimism, this work aggregates as a family of (country & urban) qualities of mind about the ultimate value of the arts -- in making and repairing the world-as-home.


  • gallery minimal, if


  • welcomed

  • artist-gallery agreement


  • welcomed


  • $8.75 sq. In. (small works) adjusted ++ for large pieces

  • payment plans available

  • barter? perhaps

Will Deal Well.



my Team -

who can 'best' Dante  e.g.  "Love Awakens the Soul to Act" ?

who may best Dante?  perhaps Simon Schama:   "Beauty is a Gateway to Love"

but I say   not the only gateway .  Managing well the dark primitive shadow in oneself is another gateway.


What all of this writing feels like -to me-here and now?

 "...late roses filled with early snow"     - T.S. Elliot