Over the past 10 years San Francisco based artist Brett Amory has worked on a series of pieces entitled Waiting. The series began in 2000 as Amory noted a disconnect with his fellow commuters while on his way to work.
“For about 3 years I probably did about 10-15 paintings of people in transit, people standing, waiting to be somewhere else. The train would be packed with commuters but nobody would be looking at each other, let alone talking. So there was this disconnect that I had picked up on. I did that for a couple years and experimented with other mediums, different ways of painting and some mixed media resin pieces. The resin pieces were pretty much Photoshop in actual form, they were built up of transparent layers with these clear blacks with transparencies overlaid inside them to make up the images,” Amory said.
After taking a break from Waiting, Amory would return to the series 5 years later and the concept of the series began to change, however the same sentiment of being disconnected from the present still remained.
“When I returned to the series it wasn’t so much about a person waiting to be somewhere else, as it was what happened while we were waiting to be somewhere else. While we were waiting on the corner to cross the street. While we’re sitting in traffic. While we were waiting for a picture to download. What’s happening while we wait? We’re thinking about our past. We’re thinking about our future. Most of us aren’t in the present moment. So I thought that the best way to illustrate that was to take out the environment and add a lot of negative space so the viewer is drawn to the emotion of the work before the esthetic.
In 2000 when I was first working on the Waiting series it was more of an impressionistic approach. I was painting everything and there was a lot of color, and it was more expressive. After I did all the experimentation and came back to the series I took out the environment and there was a lot of negative space, there was less color, less expressive marks. It was more to the point, a more direct way of painting to illustrate the idea of waiting and what’s happening while we wait, and how most of us aren’t in the present moment. ” Amory said.
Waiting 81 was part of the Dark Light series, a sub series of Waiting that took place at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in the summer of 2011. A juxtaposition of Amory’s White Light series the Dark Light series features images set mostly at night.
I wanted to do something that was the opposite of the stuff I had done up to that point, which was white stuff. I had done a few, but never a batch all together. People in these paintings were crossing over into the next room/dimension/parallel, whatever you’d want to call it. All the other ones in the series there’s a really strong light source. It’s almost like a passage. These people are still in our parallel or whatever you’d like to call it, but they are about to cross over into the light. The light would represent enlightenment, they’re waiting to be enlightened if that makes sense. In the White Light show that work was all white, it was really hazy, a lot of negative space and a lot of atmospheric light,” Amory said.
Amory told 1xRUN that Waiting 81 was the wildcard in this series and ended up being the benchmark for how the rest of the Dark Light series would come together.
“Waiting 81 was my personal favorite out of the series. I think it was the first or second one that I did and when I finished it, that was where I set the bar for the rest of the work. The work has to be this good or better. It’s probably the most different out of the whole group. ” Amory said. “As far as what this print is about, there is this Chinese restaurant that I go to in Oakland on 12th street. There is a porn shop right beside it and that’s it on the whole block. Those two places kind of stand out. You can see the Chinese place from like a half mile away, you drive right up on it at night. It’s this weird little Chinese restaurant but the way the awning in the front of the place looks, it just sticks out in Oakland. It’s a weird place, but it’s definitely the best Chinese food I’ve ever had.”