Artist Brett Amory on translating emotion through installation

Artist Brett Amory on translating emotion through installation

Feeling a sense of place — Brett Amory recreates poignant city locations through painting and installation. As he publishes his complete works, we asked the Bay Area artist how his process is evolving.

Brett Amory’s work is nothing if not varied. The Bay Area artist is able to capture a myriad emotions from countless cities the world over. By photographing, and then painting, an image, Amory takes a step back from his initial reaction to the moment and gives himself the chance to think more about his work. It’s a special relationship he shares with his audience and the collected ephemera he brings to his gallery shows helps convey his connection to each of the places he paints to the viewer.

To demonstrate just how varied his work is, Amory will be releasing a deluxe edition book photobook which would make any bookshelf look infinitely more cultured. Inside, there are a range of essays and paintings to document the incredible 15-year span of Amory’s art.

We caught up with Amory to celebrate his career and see what’s changed since he last spoke to Huck.

How have your interests changed since you last spoke with Huck?
My interest haven’t changed all that much. I am still inspired by the mundane but I have become more excited about doing installations.

What are the similarities, or differences, between shooting in the US and Europe? Do you have a preference between the two?
I don’t prefer one over the other. Every place is unique with its own set of challenges. Shooting in the US is easier because of its familiarity. However, the people in London were the nicest and most helpful.

Do you have a favourite image in the book? If so, what is the story behind it?
It is a big book, I am very happy with how it turned out!  Vivant make beautiful books. Every spread is handled with extreme care. If I were to pick a favourite image it would have to be the one of my friend Rick. Rick passed away a couple years ago. He was like a brother to me.

The last time you spoke to Huck, you said: “I want that feeling to transcend my painting. I start out with a realistic approach and I break it down abstractedly. The more I paint, the better I’m getting at capturing that feeling with less.” Do you think that you’ve gotten better at this?
I still work in the same manner. I’m not sure if I am better now but it continues to be the primary objective in my work. I feel installation is a better way of working with emotion. Installation with life size figures seems to be more efficient when it comes to transcending experience.

What are you hoping that readers of this book will feel and take away from it?
All I can hope for is that the readers find the book to be inspiring and they walk away feeling positive.

What connection do you think that you gain from taking a photograph and developing it from there brings to you, personally?
It’s not so much about taking a picture for me. The reason I spend time documenting is to learn the place. My goal is to capture moments that will turn into pieces of art. Most of my work starts with a photograph but the photograph is taken while I am studying the place. Giving myself  time to watch and study is essential in my practice. The longer I spend at a place the more I understand and the better I can translate a captured moment.

Finally, what does the future hold for your work?
I want my work to become more direct. Installation seems to be a natural direction for me and my work. I feel translating an emotion if more effective with installation. I hope to do more in the future.

Brett Amory: The Complete Works & Selected Essays will be available June 6 from Vivant Books and will be limited to run of 300.