Dynamic portraits of friends, curators, and artists bring forth expressions of apprehension, anger, consternation, and contempt in artist Bryan Ida’s recent exhibition at the Los Angeles Artcore Union Center for The Arts. This portrait series titled “Beauty Awash in a Sea of Bad News” captures the current political unrest and emotional discomfort felt by many of his acquaintances in most subtle ways. Ida’s work is influenced by his studies in electronic music composition at Sonoma and San Jose State Universities and his close friendship with the abstract expressionist artist, Sam Francis. Working with Francis would be an instrumental experience in Ida’s artistic career.
Unlike traditional common depictions of political tensions with fists up in the air, images of shouting people enraged in protest, police officers in riot gear or a sea of waving protest signs, Ida’s portraits are timeless facial gestures caught outside intense emotional manifestations. The gaze and sealed lips in each one of his portraits expose a facial language of discontent. His focus is on the individual in a state of deep thought layered and textured in a silent protest. The rendering of faces in this series for an artist whose artistic architectural work has been mostly with geometrical abstractions with straight lines and hard edges to how to use soft fine lines posed a challenge.
His technique and approach to his art-making process is similar to a musical composition with multiple instruments overlapping each other synchronizing the complexities of bringing together one single work of art. Moving across his two dimensional series of portraits, lines begin to expand and contract similar to an accordion at play that further adds to the state of mind of each portrait. The enclosed paintings done on wood panels in acrylic, enamel, china marker and charcoal display the mixed media approach as Ida’s music keyboard. The choosing of color is instrumental for Ida as keynotes that amplify high and low contrast values of intensity making his process a visual representation of volume. He addresses protest visually with paintings that speak like a symphony in concert or like one of Chilean poet and songwriter Victor Jara’s song of protest.
Further, into his work images on paper expel visible traces of prior erasure only to meet with other lines that shadow amongst the many sketches and markings on aged paper. Each one of his lines drawn out to take shape map his journey in the quest to find the route that most expresses his desire to reveal an expression.
The challenge was met by fusing together music and art. For Ida both forms of art are very much alike, both involve the layering of creativity together to give depth, meaning, and resonance.
November 30, 2017