Meet Ryan Brennan, a painter turned social practice artist turned ‘visual puzzle’ composer, who was kind enough to introduce me to his creative journey via pieces around his ornate loft, on the endearingly anarchic 2nd floor of 538 johnson.
How long have you lived in Bushwick?
Three short years. I’m doing my part in gentrification, as we all know. In a couple years I won’t be living here.
What is the best thing about living in Bushwick?
A lot of studios are equipped with Star Trek beaming systems which makes it really easy to have a community here. That’s why Bushwick is so much better than other art communities. SoHo, whatever, all they have are places to shop. The number one perk: teleportation system.
Have you participated in Bushwick Open Studios before?
Maybe you don’t want to put this in, but I just opened my door cuz they were doing it down the hall. I like, hopped on it.
You mentioned that you used to do more social practice work and now you’re moving away from that to do collage?
I started off as a painter, believe it or not, super realism detailed painting and I started doing collages on the side as I loved visiting thrift stores and I had this crazy collection of chotchkies and knick nacks. I started combining them, painting them and making these odd things to make gifts for friends. I entered a show, and people seemed to like them and my personality comes out a lot more with them.
I’m really attracted to older architecture, modernist or minimalism, like Paul Rodolf. I like to weave the different layers of imagery together and approach my collages as abstract shapes. I try to mess with foreground, middle-ground, background, so you never know what’s really coming at you and what’s underneath and what’s in front.
So it’s very distorted from the viewers perspective, I find that to be really intriguing and fun. It’s something you’ll continually look at and be puzzled by, I like to think of them as visual puzzles.