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Richard Bruland: Layers of Abstract

“Richard Bruland: Layers of Abstract” opens 1st Friday, June 7th, at the newly merged Bryant Nagel Galleries – the former Lanning and Turquoise Tortoise. The new exhibition showcases the California artist’s unique and compelling abstract paintings and Bruland gives an Artist Talk about his unique path and vision at 5:45 during the opening. His paintings are at once both vibrant and muted, with what appear to be soft gradations of tone when viewed from afar that reveal themselves as intricately complex layers of underlying contrast.

Bruland was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. His lifelong interest in music first claimed his artistic attention.

In the early 1980s Bruland opened California’s Bebop Records and Fine Art. It was a record store/art gallery/performance place that became one of the best-known small venues in Los Angeles in the ‘80s. Performers such as Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, Jane’s Addiction and Beck graced its stage while artists such as Raymond Pettibon were granted early shows at the gallery. In 1990 Bruland closed Bebop to concentrate on his own painting.

“My paintings are neither issue-driven, nor anthropological examinations of cultural minutiae,” Bruland notes, “but rather a very personal exploration of my own particular signatures.” In a method of his own devising, Bruland begins with a field of textured gesso over which, in a precise, and ultimately often unnoticed, grid pattern he paints on layer upon layer of acrylic. Each layer dipping or peaking atop the ground. When these meticulous and methodical steps are complete, Bruland uses an electric hand sander to sand down into the painting, revealing myriad colors as the peaks and valleys are smoothed. With his painted board laid flat, Bruland then floods the surface with water, working in a wash of acrylic color that dissipates as it moves into the painting. These gentle fades of color transition may come from one edge, two, or more creating works that, as Bruland describes them, “refer to landscape in a most non-specific way.”

Atmosphere, light, color and shadow are elements of nature that people everywhere experience and by eliminating the specific, Bruland’s paintings speak to all of us. The exhibition lasts through June 23rd.