Brian Fernandes-Halloran is an artist intent on creating compelling narratives, perceptions, and interactions. Fascinated by his place in the mix of cultures and class identities, he produced an interactive show at Frontrunner Gallery in 2011, ‘Artists and Patrons’, that brought painting and performance to the gallery to draw out relationships, stereotypes, and myths surrounding the modern day artist, dealer, and patron. Brian’s most recent work Not Past: Old Toys and Lost Friends uses sculpture and found objects to explore the nature of memory. The work opens at 287 Spring St. NYC on Friday, June 7th 6-9 PM.
Sculpture seems very appropriate to look at memory. What is the relationship in your work?
My works are a mix between sculpture and assemblage. Memory has a different role in how it relates to their comprising found objects and how it relates to the pieces as a whole. Each object I find to contribute to a piece has a memory in a sense. They hold the design and markings of wear of their former use. As whole pieces, the sculptural form is appropriate for memory because our memories are often quite three dimensional. I recently learned that the hippocampus is the part of the brain that both deals with space and the storing of long term memories. This makes a lot of sense in what I’m doing. I used to paint from memory but it was not the same. It felt like I was negotiating a window into another time with a fixed point of view. But that isn’t really what memory is like because a memory often feels like a space you enter and to some degree can move around in.
Discuss the subjects and narrative in your upcoming show.
I have moved a lot since my adolescence and have lost some of my closest friends so many of the people and places most important to me exist only as recollections. Thus, Old Toys and Lost Friends captures moments and figures in my life that are significant to me. From a boy I shared a truck ride with, to my dog when growing up, to two of my high school friends who passed, to my first toy truck, memories of these figures keep resurfacing for a reason. The specifics of the memories tell a story in their make-up. The pose of my dog, for example, tells a story of innocence and trust that I associate with my childhood. Maybe that is why I keep such a clear memory of her.
In “Traveling North to Cabo Del Gado” a full size truck carries several memories and combines them depending on the vantage point. This is really bizarre because the memories themselves have become strongly connected in my head. The driver’s cabin for example holds a shrine to two friends I lost in the passenger seat, while I am driving the truck. I think it speaks to the control we have over the form that people take once they have past. We, often without knowing it re-contextualize and shift their makeup to play whatever role it has in our own journey.
When are works like this complete? How do you assemble them?
I don’t think works like this are complete. They are held together by screws and wax so they can always be rejiggered. The wax can be warmed and reformed. Pieces can be added to them. Memories are never complete either so I think that is appropriate.
What was the production like for you? Challenges or triumphs?
The production has been really cathartic. I have learned to slow down the process a bit and let my subconscious play a role. I don’t go hunting for objects on a spree (unless I stumble onto a jackpot construction dumpster!). My eyes often will fall on an object and then I try and figure out why. It could serve a purpose for the works with its form adding something that is missing or even begin a new work if it reminds me of a specific memory and holds the right characteristics. The challenges have been mostly with space, keeping the assemblages together, moving them around. “Traveling North to Cabo Del Gado” is really big with lights and electrical wiring. It’s made from unconventional materials too so it can be unwieldy.
You have relocated your studio to galleries to showcase a unique work process in the past (notably Frontrunner). What do you have in store for visitors at 287 Spring?
I will have my worktable at 287 Spring Street in the corner of the exhibition space. I will walk around the area daily, picking up discarded objects within a few blocks of the exhibition. From 6 to 8 on weekdays I’ll be in there cutting up stuff, melting wax and adding to pieces or making new work. It’s important to keep the assemblages developing and I think visitors will appreciate seeing the process: watching trash become unique objects become memories.