Bryan Grose—Artist Statement
My paintings are characterized as industrial, modern, and abstract, blended with elements of realism and atmosphere. These multi-layered textural works in oil reveal contrast between thick and detailed brushwork, dominating focal points and surrounding space, rigid angles and ambient movement, and dark and light colour schemes. Drawing inspiration from modernism and modern design, from architecture to people and places, I express in art what I perceive in the world around me.
My style has evolved from my life experiences. I was born in Rochester, New York, but moved to a town south of Detroit when I was young. Raised in an unconventional and artistic family that exposed me to diverse people, ideas, and surroundings, I was encouraged to process all that I encountered deeply. As I gained education, traveled, and took on new roles (e.g., guitar player, prosthetic designer, artist, husband, and father), my framework for understanding places, environments, relationships, and contexts expanded. I came to understand the mutual affective connection between physical landscapes and cultures.
My perspective and style began years ago while painting a relative’s barn (on canvas) located north of Toronto. The piece was non-representational. As I gazed at the landscape, I realized how I could tell a story as a visual artist. In my portrayals of landscapes since then, including Detroit, Glasgow, Potsdamer Platz, among others, I realized I was offering an interpretation of the presence, power, and meaningfulness of the landscape to active cultural participants.
My interest in creating modern urban art originated in my early experiences in Detroit. The overwhelming industrial buildings, rich cultural diversity, and vibrant art culture indelibly shaped my impressionable young mind. Certain observations piqued my curiosity and created vivid memories that lingered. These and other life-defining moments became the source of my creative inspiration. Like Andrew Wyeth, who developed a painting style to narrate his environment, I chose to paint what I found interesting to explain the significance of the image.
My form and style have evolved through various life events. One such life-changing moment occurred when I visited Berlin in a November years ago. I witnessed a stimulating culture with a complex history, traveled by train and foot, shared meals and adventures with friends and fellow artists, and observed sites like the U-Bahn in Potsdamer Platz and the Reichstag. I directly observed how the landscape (i.e., the geography, structures, political, and social) affected the culture and how the culture affected the landscape. All of this influenced me profoundly and encouraged some of my favourite paintings.
Another meaningful moment occurred when I visited a fellow student in Manchester, England. In traveling through this assortment of unique people, histories, narratives, and landscapes, I felt a creative resonance with this culture and its scenery. Walking past the studio that produced bands like The Smiths and New Order, I realized that certain creative hotspots contribute valuably to culture. As I glimpsed into their lives and their stories, their narratives changed my own—and my art evolved.
I recently moved back to Detroit, which is interestingly called the “New Berlin.” I find that within the concrete and steel buildings manifests a passionate countercultural creativity that is evident in many forms that add unto each other—art, music, theatre, and writing, among others. It is usually in these cities that are fraught with adversity, challenges, diversity, and histories of rebellion that creativity arises. My art, inspired by these types of environments, exposes points of contrast and influence between culture and landscape that, despite all challenges, reveal a powerful resilience.