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Interview | Brant Ritter

Tell us about this body of work launching on Tappan.

There are a few series that emerge from different ways of thinking about contemporary drawing. There is a clear architectural influence to the geometric drawings. Stemming from my thoughts on sculpture, materials, scale and the construction of things.

Describe your work in three words.

Intentional. Precise. Beautiful.

What's one thing you still have from your childhood?

A painting that my uncle gave to my parents for their wedding. As a kid, I remember seeing it stuck in the basement corner. I was always intrigued by it, wondering how it ended up in a damp basement. When I packed up to move to LA after graduate school, I made sure that it found its way west with me.

What is your creation process like? How are you conceptualizing and thinking about each of these pieces?

I have a very deliberate process. It may take me a year or more of thinking about an idea before I am ready to execute it. I try to finalize all of the major decisions before I begin making the work, knowing full well that things can and will change. Once I feel like I have as many questions answered as possible I will begin making the work. By and large, the work is ‘done’ long before I begin to actually make it.

How has Los Angeles influenced your practice?

All of the cliche traits, like the climate, the space, the pace of life. But most importantly, it was the time I spend working in the contemporary art galleries as well as the artists that I met, that have influenced how I make art.

When was the first time a work of art affected you? What was it?

I was visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in college and I was floored by Rothko’s Orange and Tan.  I sat on the bench in front of it for some time, swallowed up by the volume of light that Rothko was able to create on a two-dimensional surface.

Other than the genre you work in; what other types of art do you most enjoy?

Concrete poetry. Any work that incorporates language intrigues me. I am envious of anyone that has a firm grasp of language and writing.

Contemporary painting. There is such a rich history of painting, I enjoy watching it simultaneously evolve and fold in on itself.

Do you have a favorite quote, or a phrase you think about often?

A wrong decision is better than no decision.

What’s your philosophy on life?

Fail better.

An art collection celebrates the social & political world a collector wants to inhabit. Do you personally collect, and if so what and why?

I do not actively collect work. As an artist, I’ve had the opportunity to trade work with fellow artists which I am grateful to do. I’ll leave the collecting to the collectors, if they promise to leave the artmaking to the artists.

What would be in your ideal art collection?

Toba Khedoori

Robert Therrien

Robert Mangold

Agnes Martin

Jonathan Lasker

James Turrell

Richard Tuttle

If I had to narrow my focus, I would probably collect contemporary drawings. They exist like poems, to a painting or a sculpture’s novel. To me, a drawing is the most intimate expression of an artist. There are no extraneous moves, nothing superfluous. Only intention.

How has technology affected your life as an artist?

The computer and specifically 3d modeling software allows me to visualize the work, letting me edit or alter the pieces much easier. Having the ability to review the work in a rendered environment removes a lot of the constraints that large scale pieces impose on an artist.

How would you define the role social media plays in art? Art making? Art promoting?

Social media is certainly a double edge sword for visual artists. The immediacy and exposure to a larger audience than an artist would otherwise have access to is offset by the way that the work is experienced. Seen on a monitor or smart phone any subtlety and nuance is lost, the artwork becomes an approximation.

There is however an opportunity to embrace these traits and to create a virtual experience that enhances the physical. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

What makes you nervous?

Walking into a boxing ring to fight. There is nowhere to hide.

What makes you laugh?

Someone retelling an experience that they had that is 80% true and 20% complete bullshit. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?

There are a number of physical experiences that I could highlight; raced motorcycles, skydived, fought in an amateur boxing tournament, but the answer is and always will be: I told the truth.

What’s one habit you wish you could break?

Self-doubt… I think.

Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?

Silence while I’m creating the work, but music while I’m producing the work.

See Brant's debut collection here.