Brian Fekete's No. 179 is a small, unframed, monochromatic 10 x 8 inch watercolor pencil drawing in black watercolor pencil on a page from a 1943 trigonometry resource printed with regular columns of numerical results. The artist has appropriated the image of a woodblock print by German Expressionist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, originally published in 1918 in the arts magazine Das Kunstblatt, which was devoted to promoting the work of living artists. Referencing the past through the purposeful warping of this appropriated imagery over a page excerpted from an obsolete mathematical reference, the artist suggests an open-ended commentary on the problematic, subjective nature of recorded history, obsolescence and the fall of civilizations. Part of his "Small Text" series, dynamic dialogues are created when a few are hung together. This is a companion piece to No. 167.
Fekete states, "The motivations and methodologies typical of much of my work are concerned with creating new formal as well as metaphorical contexts for found and appropriated imagery. Employing a wide range of wet, dry, and collaged media, the sources of this imagery are as far flung as zoology and theology, body parts and auto parts. It has been slowly and methodically collected over many years. It is often manipulated, recombined and distorted utilizing relatively low tech photomechanical (xerographic) processes which produce random results not easily dictated or controlled by the artist. Limited control is a desired consequence which forces the artist to make decisions within the parameters of the individual outcomes of process. These resulting distortions and re-combinations pose many possibilities for abstraction and visual readings not intended for the original image. They also place the images in entirely new and sometimes unsettling contexts, ripe for personal commentary, thus, reinterpretation on various levels (i.e. political, religious and psychological). In some depictions, science, nature and technology may be observed collaborating in unison. One by one images are selected and grouped, often incongruously, then varying shifts in scale are introduced with a projector, building a uniquely distinct personal mythology and visual vocabulary. My objective is to present refreshing new settings for psychological tableaux and phenomenological scenarios through formal language by injecting otherwise neutral imagery with layers of new meaning."
Now settled and working in Kingston, NY, Brian Fekete reached the Hudson Valley by way of Brooklyn and Detroit, where he was born in 1955. There, he received his BFA and MFA degrees, before moving to Brooklyn in 1997. Fekete has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Wayne State University, and grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts. His work can be seen in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, as well as numerous public and private collections, both in the US and abroad.