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Ones to Watch: Multi-Talented Mixed Media Artist, Brando

Art director and designer to many, Brando has collaborated with and brought to life the visions of such artists as ZHU, Saint JHN, THEY., and Tommy Genesis. He debuted his first series of paintings in a solo show titled “000. PORTRAIT yesterday evening, January 24, in Los Angeles. The minimalistic series couples a black silhouette with gold leaf, evoking an unsettling contrast. For Brando, the execution of this series became a way for him to communicate, and when viewed as a whole body of work, can be recognized as a portraiture of himself.

The paintings were created with the vision they would sit atop a fireplace mantel, gold elements flickering and silhouettes vanishing in and out of focus. He documented the process of making this series with a sequence of ASMR style videos that can be found on his Instagram, consisting of soothing long strokes and satisfying glob smacks of black paint on a canvas, using a smattering of different utensils and resulting in varying textures.

Since the beginning of his career, his work has been centered on elevating music with striking visuals. Here, he graduates to a more liberating medium.

On where this series comes from.

It started when I made [the Doberman portrait] for a pop up for ZHU. I gravitated towards both the process and the material. This black paint I imported from the UK for it was so trippy, I wanted to experiment with it further.  The black base coat was applied with trash bags, spatulas, broom… even a Swiffer. Honestly whatever I could find in my closet and that’s where a lot of the texture comes from. You can’t get that with a brush. The interesting thing with this paint is that when I apply it, I can’t see what I’m painting because it goes on the same exact color as the canvas. So I don’t really know what I’m painting when I’m doing it, I just have to trust what I’m doing. One thing I would do is I’d lay the canvas on the ground and I’d put my ear to the ground and paint sideways so I could get some reflection off the wet paint when I was painting the silhouette coat—so I could see what I was doing.

On what the name means.

“000” is the hex code for the color black. Portrait is for each painting being a portrait and the series in whole being a portrait of myself. The point is a nod to Kazmir Malevich—his work “Black Square” (1915) was an all-black canvas and nicknamed the “zero point of painting.” So the title combines “000”, “0.”, and “Portrait”. His was just an all-black canvas but it had a lot of textures to it. Which is what the minimalist movement in the 50’s was, it looked like single color canvas and it might be irritating, but when you get up close there’s a lot of texture and detail, little pigments. You have engage at different angles to see everything that’s going on. Sometimes, there’s mixed media. For the Donny Darko piece, I used fake hair within the canvas. If you look closely, there’s hair sticking out of it.

On how to look at them.

A lot of what the painting looks like is dictated by light. During the day, it looks different than it does at night. Depending on where the sunlight is coming through the window, it changes the painting. If you’re looking straight on any given painting from the series, you can’t see the silhouette. Depending on the angle you’re looking at it, it changes.

On why a giraffe.

I have a very long neck. That’s why I slouch, so you can’t see how long my neck is. My friends always make fun of my neck and send me pictures of giraffes, so I made a giraffe.

On how this series sets him up for what’s next.

From afar the images in this series are more ‘graphic’ than ‘painting’ and only up close can you see the expression of the paints and the craft of the gold leaf. I wanted to blend minimalism, fine art, and design elements. I wanted it to be a mix. It’s gonna be tough to leave this series because this black paint is so cool. But I’m gonna leave this series where it is and not expand on it. As an artist, I’d like to do different styles. This series was a way to merge myself as a designer and a painter.

Following the interview, the show’s opening reception was well attended—and included Brando’s father who is a legendary pin striper, who happened to be in town for the weekend as a commissioned painter for an upcoming event. 

The series “000.PORTRAIT” is open to the public at 611 N La Cienega Blvd in West Hollywood for the weekend, ending the evening of January 26.

Images courtesy of Tony Meda

Stay tuned to Milk for more ones to watch.

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