Brian Fekete’s Encyclopedic Series No.8 is an unframed 22 x 17 inch work on paper in colored pencil and graphite on bark paper. Using an elegant palette of crimson reds and grays on textured, handmade paper, the artist has meticulously drawn a distorted, stretched mirror image of a man in profile wearing the powdered wig hair style of 18th century Europe and America. Three faces drawn in grays, stretched and elided as though reflected in a funhouse mirror, ground this central figure. Using reference images that include historical illustrations of hairstyles in vintage encyclopedias, the artist creates contortions that challenge our perception. Through a process of visual sampling Fekete breathes new life into these images by his careful recontextualizing and distorting, inviting the viewer into a fantastical world.
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.