Studio visit with Brian Belott
Many years ago when I met gallerist Dominique Levy, I remember she said that she preferred to collect artists who she didn't personally know -- she would have been too disappointed to know that someone who created art she loved and connected with was a complete turn off. But variations on that position are perfectly possible: I have been watching Brian Belott's career for a while and after meeting him and visiting his studio, now I want to collect his work even more than before.
His Brooklyn place is a caveman of sorts and a hoarder's paradise. As a self-described "found art collector" and lover of flea markets and thrift shops, Belott has been quite prolific in his work and also at amassing a colossal amount of objects, books, trinkets, tchotchkes, frames and whatever else he feels compelled to have in his possession. He has almost completely filled up his own apartment and also his studio which is conveniently located in the same building but in a different space.
The coolest thing about Brian is that, besides being a tremendous artist with a pretty expansive repertoire that includes mixed media paintings, reverse glass paintings, collages, drawings, sculptures, books and calculators, performance art and even frozen pieces (yes, more about that below), is that he is humble and grounded all in an amusingly clever way - and somehow, he seems to always be smiling.
The reverse glass paintings (some of them including dirty socks) are quite on fire and when the calculators with colored sand and stones where shown in Miami this past December at Untitled Art Fair, collectors seemed to have ripped them off the walls wanting to take them home immediately. His color combinations are so compelling that it's very hard to take one's gaze off of his paintings and the imperfect geometry of his grids is engulfing to say the least. But he doesn't stop there: there are cartoonish paintings with words, still lives, laminated drawings and much more.
While pushing boundaries seems to be Brian's thing, I was quite intrigued when I saw him suddenly put on some latex gloves. And then he came back holding something that looked like a frozen baked sheet covered with a foil. When he peeled off the foil, the container revealed a frozen sculpture that resembled a bit of a Rothko painting except this one was made with ketchup and hair gel in different colors - I was quite surprised: I've never seen anything like it before.
As if it wasn't sufficient with his talent as an artist, Brian has also organized several successful shows, including the "Draw Gym" at the adjacent spaces of KnowMore and 247365 galleries in Brooklyn. There, he curated the work of 75 artists who at the very least had two drawings in the exhibit. Essentially no piece of wall was left uncovered.
And there will be more exhibits that he is curating in 2015, and more where he will be showing his own work. While some of it is confidential, I was able to take a peek and all I can say for now is that I'm in awe of this dynamic artist. For up-to-the-minute fun, follow Brian on Instagram.