Brian Felten is a Wisconsin born artist and currently a graduating 3rd year MFA Painting and Drawing Candidate at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Brian earned his BFA in Art Education and Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2016. He has worked as an Art Educator for various K-12 school districts, and has exhibited his work in the Allen Priebe Gallery, Thelma Gallery, and the Steinhibler Gallery.
I explore contemporary portraiture through oil painting. Traditionally, the primary purpose of a portrait is to present a representational image for the viewer to be able to identify the portrayed person. With my paintings, I subvert this idea and instead I create images of a body that deny any recognizability of its identity to the viewer. Each of the bodies presented are a meditation on my own self-portrait. By turning my attention on myself, I am contemplating the connection of my own identity and my external appearance.
The bodies are painted using thick layers of paint to create twisted, muddied, and visceral forms. The brushstroke and mark making gesture project a sense of movement and dimension, creating a chaotic and violent twisting of implied flesh. This painted and sculptural flesh creates an essence of a person. The bodies in my work sit on top of an atmospheric plane, and creating a contrast of painterly qualities for the eye to jump between the body and background. The atmospheric background creates an implied space that the bodies both reside in and are separate from. Occasionally the space appears through the flesh of the bodily forms, and at others the forms create a sense of floating and detachment.