Bryan Allen Robertson

Artist's Statement

Artist's Statement

My research investigates the condition of social and economic justice in a globalized world. This artistic style of thinking traces itself back to Northern European still life painters like Pieter Claez who used symbolism inherent to the popular culture of the day to depict mercantile disparities between classes. Contemporary artists like Martha Rosler and Neo Rauch use the language of popular culture to create a similar dialogue. 

While these topics are complex, and solutions remain elusive modern thinkers like Arjun Appadurai and Sheldon Wolin address them. These writers describe a kind of cultural autocracy forming from the consolidation of global wealth. Their ideas affect how my art interprets the control of power and its projection across the world.

All of my work starts off as words or phrases or tracers of images. The art comes to life through a forensic investigation aided by Internet image searches. In my Altar of Commerce paintings, I address auspicious environmental and agricultural concerns like genetically modified food, personalized transportation, the consumption of beef, the role of plastics, and the fantasies of consumption that satiate our creature comforts. How does the human drive for comfort both define and structure inequality? 

My digital maps continue this exploration into the structure of inequality. These maps illustrate a set of parameters based on the economic status of countries across the world. The rating of a nation as “G-7,” “G-20,” “developed,” or “undeveloped,” determines the commodity, media logo, corporate logo, monetary symbol, or national symbol depicted within its borders. Cliché signs of a spreading consumer culture follow the lines of conflict across the globe and highlight active cultural fault lines. In my work, these shifting tectonic plates point to the continually changing location and scope of power.  

Ultimately, for me, 2D artwork functions as a way to synthesize a diversity of information (geographic, ethnic, architectural, and photographic) into a single pictorial space. I utilize well-known symbols and rearrange them into a personal set of hieroglyphics, that externalize the internal experience of today’s digital culture. My paintings and collages examine this transient state of contemporary life, through the footprints of photography, media networks, big data, and corporate America.