Cox is currently a fellow at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. His latest prints and video work are on view through August 18th. Each piece of work demonstrates exceptional commitment to technique as well as confident representations of urban black malehood through gaze, posture, and gesture. His work represents the influences of his surroundings. The social and environmental landscape that he has inhaled is being powerfully exhaled back into the world through his drawings, prints, and videos.
His current work focuses on the nuanced layers of humanity and masculinity that extend beyond Dubois-ian double-consciousness in that most of the subjects in this exhibition claim a position of power through confrontational gaze and posture. The video, conversely, seems to represent the distorted view; a side profile of a male with flashing color bars (as if something is wrong with your television set) that further disrupt the profile.
The stand-out piece is the masonite laser-cut titled “Throne,” which has one central male figure who is wearing a New York Yankees ball cap, a hoodie, and a pair of Timberland boots. He is surrounded by several other male figures with St. Louis Cardinals baseball caps on. The central character is sitting on top of a throne with radiant light streaks flowing from behind. He has no facial features, but his clothing, posture, and surrounding posse suggest a degree of social dominance. Together they represent a male collective in a place of perceived prominence: the throne, a position of power, quite possibly a metaphorical win in a nation where losses for most figures adorned in this attire are far too common.
Though he’s exhibited with Serra and Baldessari, Cox still self-identifies as an emerging artist and he took a few moments to share the ideas and concepts behind his work.
The Loop 21: What is your creative process and how do you build a body of work?
Brandon Coley Cox: I do a lot of thinking, a lot of reading, and research, and living, and so that informs the work. I mean, I inform the work based on things I react to.
What media do you use to create?
I work in printmaking, drawing, collage, and painting; those are the foundations. From that I’m doing things like “Paid” stamp drawings (see “Stayin Paid”), corrupted digital works that stem from photography and painting. It kind of depends because there are a lot of processes.
What are you saying about masculinity? What is your commentary on hip-hop culture?
Conceptually, the whole thing started with dissecting hyper-masculine traits that leak down from hip-hop standards and comparing that to multi-national corporations. “Throne” is more like a statement of new forms of masculinity, new heights, a new throne. When you look at it [the work] there are all these different copies of men, different types of men, making one gesture. It’s sort of like talking about the evolution of blackness really, young black culture, and we’re all coming together to make this new thing.
What’s the new “thing”?
Afro-Punk has some interesting [things] happening -- that’s one thing to look at. A lot of it is fashion and how it leaks down. You know, you have a lot of straight black males wearing girl jeans. It’s like a new black.
What do you want people to take away when they see your work?
What it is that has made up masculinity; the layers, the corruption, and the many people that have made up who we are to where we are now.
Who are the artists that influence you?
Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, Wangechi Mutu, and Jacob Lawrence. Jacob Lawrence is an interesting character. I wasn’t a big fan of his work until Skowhegan, but he was determined to get an image, to make paintings, and that’s what’s up. He had super-drive, and I respect that.
Brandon’s current exhibition is a part of the 2009-2010 Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Studio Immersion exhibition featuring Brandon Coley Cox, Monique Schubert, and Ryan Wallace. The Elizabeth Foundation is located at 323 W. 39th Street, NY, NY.