Edgar Bryan's most recent body of work includes boldly colored paintings featuring musical instruments, musicians, and occasionally the artist’s hand sneaking in to play a melody. Bryan has often worked within the realm of portraiture and self-portraiture showing life and its vicissitudes with a sense of humor. An inherent contradiction in his work is the disarmingly lighthearted, at times personal imagery which is skillfully (in turns expressively and methodically) painted, a contradiction underscored by the liberal use of both traditional and contemporary materials such as oil, acrylic, and occasionally even craft store supplies such as yarn.
In these works, Bryan explores his obsession with playing, reading, and composing written musical scores through the analogous processes of composing a picture with textures and colors. The joys, discoveries, and frustrations of this experience are found scattered throughout these new works. Musical notes emerge amongst textured brush strokes, while self-referential wit mixes with classical history.
In “Paint a Song,” Bryan refers to the recent discovery of a heretofore unknown Goldberg Variation in a music score depicted in an old master painting; in fact, one can see that painting reproduced in the upper part of Bryan’s picture. As in several of the works, the musical score on the piano itself was written by Bryan and can also be played. The painting serves as both part and parcel—play it, look at it, or simply laugh—capturing the strength of Bryan’s humor and humility within the facility of his own drawings.
Edgar Bryan (b. 1970, Birmingham, AL) received his BFA from The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL) in 1998 and his MFA from the University of California (Los Angeles, CA) in 2001. Recent solo and group exhibitions include "Café Opera," Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA); "Edgar Bryan's Paranoid Counterpoint Blues," Grifter (New York, NY); "Household Effects," La Loma Projects (Pasadena, CA); "Welcome to the Dollhouse," Museum of Contemporary Art Pacific Design Center (Los Angeles, CA); "Soft Corners," Richard Telles (Los Angeles, CA); "Paradise," Night Gallery (Los Angeles, CA); "Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Collection," Yokohama Museum of Art (Yokohama, Japan); Venice Beach Biennial (Venice, CA); "the love gang," Regen Projects (Los Angeles, CA); "Drunk vs. Stoned 2," Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York, NY); "The Undiscovered Country," Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA); "Drunk vs. Stoned," Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York, NY); "Hello, My Name Is...," Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, PA); "Snapshot," Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA). His work is in the collections of Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA); Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA); Astrup Fearnley Museet (Oslo, Norway); and Museum der Morderne (Salzburg, Austria). It is held by private collectors like Takashi Murakami, who presented Bryan's work in the context of an exhibition at Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan. Bryan lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.