Keith Breitfeller, Abeyance and Brian David Dennis, Then at 110 Church Gallery
“Abeyance (from the Old French abeance meaning “gaping”) is a state of expectancy in respect of property, titles or office, when the right to them is not vested in any one person, but awaits the appearance or determination of the true owner. In law, the term abeyance can only be applied to such future estates as have not yet vested or possibly may not vest. For example, an estate is granted to A for life, with remainder to the heir of B. During B’s lifetime, the remainder is in abeyance, for until the death of B it is uncertain who is B’s heir. Similarly the freehold of a benefice, on the death of the incumbent, is said to be in abeyance until the next incumbent takes possession.” – wikipedia
“The theme of my painting has been a search for stillness, a form of mediative calm. Painting is my escape from a world of too much noise and information. It’s a way to step away from those inner dialogues that keep us from being truly calm. My work is an oasis away from the complexities of modern living where one can reflect on what is essential.” – Keith R. Breitfeller
The duo show of Brian David Dennis and Keith Breitfeller is a contemplative exploration of color, depth and concept. Brian’s site specific ladder sculpture creates a mysterious upside down world while Keith’s paintings have an other-worldly depth of field like staring into another dimension. It was hard to get good photos of the art without trivializing the scope of the sculpture and the paintings are reflective which doesn’t read well on the screen. You have to be there to experience the artwork and let yourself be drawn into their dreamy worlds. I talked with both artists at 110 Church Gallery on April First Friday in Old City.
I asked Keith to explain how he gets the nerves to paint over paintings to make the richly patterned artwork. It adds such dimension and depth that you feel like you can fall into the painting.
“I usually paint over paintings. I’m interested in making a surface and showing the surface underneath and how light affects the work and different light at different times of the day.”
Are you working with acrylics?
“I use oils and acrylics, I just have a really good time putting dabs on or whatever comes to me. I’ve done stripes and dots and waves just to see how it affects the surface or how it affects the surface color.”
Your work has a very silvery quality.
“I use silver, gold and iridescent paints. I’ve been working at this for twenty-something years, it’s a slow process that’s been evolving. There were much more geometric paintings, much tighter, but over the years the underpainting started coming in, the color underneath started coming out and slowly the underpainting started coming in, it’s been an evolution. It’s not just one thing and I like watching the traveling and where it goes. One of my instructors once told me it’s like playing the piano. You find a focus of where you want to go and you just keep going with that and watch where it takes you and which paths you travel and which forks you take.”
“My goal is two fold, obviously I want to create something that presents a beauty and truth. Second, and what is personally most important is the act of making. While working I become focused only on the matter in hand and I experience a wholeness with the world. Ironically, the results express the ethos of an outsider, things are hidden or so obscured it is often difficult to know what you are seeing. This outcome is very akin to my experience when I am making. I am vaguely aware of a liquid consciousness, passing snippets of something dissolving and reforming, all just out of range of knowing. It is this realm that directs my work.” – Brian David Dennis
I told Brian I had been following the progress of the construction of his piece on facebook and I wondered about the inspiration for ‘Then’.
“I thought I might start with a model but instead I just started, it was all about time and suspension. And ‘Then’ is kind of a weird word, we talk about it like it’s the future, ‘We’ll do that then‘.”
Why are the ladders coming down instead of going up?
“They’re upside down, they’re set like you’re climbing up. I really liked the opportunity to do this piece. For years I’ve been wanting to do a ‘ladder’ piece and every time I approached it, it was an obstacle. And finally I thought to have them come down from the ceiling and that was the key instead of working on the floor. And it all just made sense to me personally.”
It also assumes the figure even though there aren’t any.
“Yeah, it’s so tiny I was tempted to put paper dolls or acrobats. But I like it completely devoid of any people. It’s a metaphor for safety and danger. It’s made out of bass wood and some of my prints that I didn’t like, so I cut them up. I actually had to replicate the prints for my prints. So, it’s just glue, wood and paper. It was really fun to make, I really liked the surface of the paper I was cutting on because it was making marks, it was nice because it was organic, I didn’t have to measure. I just thought I want this part here and I want this part to dangle there, I just started in the middle, so in a way it was kind of freeing.”
110 Church Gallery Location: 110 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106 267 871 9375
Thursday 1:30 – 6:30 pm
Friday 1:30 – 6:30 pm (except First Fridays, 5 – 8 pm)
Saturday Noon – 4 pm
other times by appointment
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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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