Sunday, April 1, 2012

Valerie Brennan Interview

Milk Teeth 25x25cm

I first heard of Valerie Brennan (now living in Madrid, Spain) from a friend that recommended I read her blog Studio Critical (  In her blog she posts artist interviews whom primarily work with abstraction.  After contacting her on Facebook and familiarizing each other with the others art, we decided to exchange interviews (you can read the interview she did with me on her blog).  While I was in the process of drafting questions to ask her I went to see Valerie's art at Scope Art Fair in NYC (I blogged about the experience in an older post).  Her work is fresh, playful, curious, adventurous, and unpretentious.  Needless to say, I enjoyed her art very much and think that you will too.  Enjoy the interview and visit her website at

Where do you get your inspiration for the shapes, forms, colors, and compositions you include in your work?
--The everyday, where I am and what I am looking at….I make very simple drawings, notes really of a shape or form that interests me. In the studio I work on paper, making batches of small paintings fast. I hang them on my wall as a group and use them as reference for marks and colors. The forms and shapes emerge as the painting progresses, what was there as a starting point usually dissolves into something else. I have a painting called Free Fall and that sums it up, it’s a dive into the unknown, I want to be surprised by what I do, if a painting doesn’t surprise me when it’s finished then it probably isn’t a good one.

Spaghetti Hoops 25x25cm

In your work as a whole are you aiming or searching for anything in particular... some vision you have of what you want your work to be?
--The first word that comes to mind is truth, I want to make paintings that are genuine and full of feeling. I also want something new and different in each painting. I don’t want to repeat myself.

What kind of impact do you want your art to have on your audience?
--I would like them to be engaged and interested, I can’t really hope for more than that, maybe to share a little bit in the mystery of things.

There is something interesting happening with abstract art. Artists like Julie Torres, Sharron Butler, Douglas Florian, etc. are creating work with simplified and odd shapes/forms and centered compositions. What is your take on all this? Whats your role in it? Who are the main players in your opinion?
--I know these artists through Facebook so I will answer within that context. I think there are some extremely interesting things going on in abstract art. I really admire the work of the three artists you mention. I think Sharon’s work is a kind of deconstructed geometry so I probably share more common ground with the other two, Julie in particular, I think we have a similar approach to what we do with different results.  It is very exciting to see what is happening on facebook and on other social media. I find it very motivating and inspiring.  I see what I would call a very quirky idiosyncratic abstraction around. I really think we are in the time of anything goes and it all has a role in the dialogue. As for my role, I make my own work and don’t really think about it within the big picture. The list of players is too long, just have a look at all my fb friends to see.

Flesh Carnival 25x25cm
What were the most important advances in your career as an artist? What can you suggest to emerging artists to get their careers rolling?
--I am an emerging artist. I think the most important thing is to keep working and remain true to yourself.  I think having a solo show was an eye opener for me and I learnt the hard way the importance of self editing, something I still haven’t quiet mastered. Organizing your own show is good too, you may not sell work but it’s a valuable experience. Other artists are our greatest recourse.

What are your favorite blogs, artists, and galleries?
-- Here in Madrid I like Reina Sofia the best, the annex has some fantastic shows, I saw some wonderful Richard Serra pieces recently. There are many really great blogs out there some of my favorites are A/ART, Structure and Imagery, The Kalm report, Two Coats, Gorky’s Grandaughter, Abstract Critical…they bring a bit of what is happening in the rest of the world to my neck of the woods. As for artists, Howards Hodgkins is my bed fellow of choice but we are not monogamous, lately I am looking at Helmut Dorner & Norbert Pragenberg

What art or artists do you dislike?
-- Inauthentic and slick art, names shall remain unnamed.

Camping 25x25cm
The Dragons Lair (After Sabine) 25x25cm
A Heart In My Head 50x50cm
Thicket 25x25cm
Courdoury 50x50cm
This Hour 50x50cm


  1. I loved reading this interview! Of course I am familiar with Valerie's work, but it's great to read about the process, to see both the similarities and also see new ways to approach. I agree that there is a shift in art, and art making which I love- someone has referred to it (in relation to my work) as "milennial abstraction." What do you think?

    Also, "engaged and interested"-- definitely!

  2. I love Valerie's work, and follow her on FB. I have noticed a shift in the direction of abstract painting, all for the good. It seems that artists are doing exactly what they want, working inside their own set of rules, and that these works are self-contained worlds. I love the confidence I see in Valerie's work, and also other artists on FB. This shift is also very inspiring.