Western Project to proud to present the second solo exhibition by Los Angeles artist, Brian Porray. Where we are in the universe has been an age old inquiry; our place in space and time, our ability to perceive and understand the changing occurrences in our physical environment. Porray looks to recorded events in history which have challenged and often created paradigm shifts about our place in the natural world, or what we call reality. In this new body of work titled, |*/N0_N3W_M00N\*| , his view is upward, into the skies at celestial phenomena; stars and particularly super novas from ancient documented sightings by early astronomers. He writes:
I spent the summer reading about binary star systems and type-1a supernovae, and was thinking a lot about the lives and deaths of cosmic objects. I became particularly interested in the story of the earliest recorded supernova. In the year 185 CE ancient Chinese astronomers witnessed RCW 86, an incredibly violent type-1a supernova event that took place roughly 8,000 light years from the Earth. It was visible in the night sky for most of the year. Lacking any real understanding of supernova events they referred to this new celestial object as a “guest star” – a star that begins to shine where there was previously nothing and disappears again after a short time. The relatively large size of RCW 86’s gas shell meant that the dying star would have appeared to be almost as large as the full moon in the night sky. It is difficult to fully grasp how foreboding and sinister this must have been – without a concrete interpretation of what was happening the ancient stargazers were left with wonder, fear, superstition, and conjecture to make sense of what they were seeing. I made these paintings with this in mind – they are an attempt to visualize something that is present but not understood an articulation of the way we look at something before we understand what it is that we are looking at.
Porray uses collage, printed papers and paint to create complex and active compositions. A kind of wayward son of Alfred Jensen or Kim McConnell, his works are raw and incessant – often a cyclonic flurry of materials born together in sophisticated structures. He creates new constellations and star systems, altered states and unearthed psychic spaces. A sort of abstract and obsessive punk pop (akin to Basquait, Carroll Dunham, and Op art of the 1960’s) Porray’s images also ride the impolite edge of order and maelstrom. He writes:
Science fiction stories often depict planets with multiple moons and stars. It is an incredibly effective tool for making us intuitively feel as though we are in another time and place. A distinct feeling of disorientation occurs simply by placing one additional moon in the night sky. I can imagine those who witnessed RCW 86 feeling the same disorientation – somehow everything was simultaneously familiar and strange. This lingering guest star would have caused a deep fracture in their reality and sense of continuity – if the positions of the stars can change or blink, everything else that seems permanent must also be suspect. A tiny shift in what we perceive to be the order of the universe can send our mental state spinning into a tunnel. Cosmological features are not as permanent as we may think. These are paintings of uncertain positions, dying stars, spectral lines, hypothetical constellations, and the havoc that the natural world can wreak on our sense of reality.
Using a kaleidoscopic language, Porray transforms scientific observation into metaphor; the paintings are purposeful inquiries about impermanence, place and wonder; most importantly, shifting perspectives in a paradoxical universe.