Brian Novantny

inventory | cv | installation images

Marcia Wood Gallery is delighted to announce the 3rd exhibition by Brian Novatny. Novatny's last exhibition in Atlanta was in 2006 and he returns with a dramatic new body of paintings and drawings.  Reinterpreting the anachronistic genre of historical maritime disasters, Novatny employs his own notions and methods of contemporary painting. 

"Brian Novatny... turns any standard for technique on its head. The Yale educated, Brooklyn-based artist was praised by the New York Times’s Roberta Smith for the technical prowess he showed in his 2011 drawing exhibition, “Picture FIshing.” His understanding of oil is radical — the paintings don’t even look like oils. He pushes paint around the canvas, bleeding, scraping, and feathering it to create an effect more akin to watercolor or a monoprint. ...silhouetted ghost ships tossed by stormy waves and obscured portraits of fictional officers — the works possess the hazy quality of early 19th-century photographs. ...the figures’ faces are treated with a refined, soft, blended hand, and then mutilated to obscure what could have been photorealistic perfection. Novatny uses paint to create the illusion of a photograph marred by time or disaster. ...capture violent, spontaneous energy that is to be applauded for emerging from a medium that requires incredible patience and time." BLOUIN ARTINFO Alanna Martinez, June 11, 2014

The fluid nature of the subject in it's turbulent unpredictability on the verge of dissolving into the tumultuous atmosphere is astonishingly rendered, though a technique of smudging, imprinting and smearing oil paint with unconventional tools, such as plastic wrap or rubber gloves. Novatny's imagery focuses on the nearly hopeless and ineffectual struggle of sailing vessels in the passage though treacherous waters. These vessels represent a fragile shelter to those on board from a hostile assualt by a storm swept sea. The elements, which propel and give life to these ships, have turned on them and now threaten to send them to their demise. Novatny brings to life the startling depths and motion of roiling clouds, heaving water and wind ravaged vessels on the verge of being swallowed with a palette of a narrow spectrum of color, relying on tonal fluctuation of the rich black, white, grays and earth tones. 

Novatny was born in Wadsworth, OH in 1964. He earned his BFA at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, OH in 1987 and his MFA at the Yale University School of Art in New Haven, CT in 1990. His work has appeared widely in solo and group shows in galleries and museums from New York, New Orleans, Atlanta, Los Angeles to Berlin and Beijing. His work is in numerous museum collections including the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Knoxville Museum of Arts, and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.