New Year’s Eve. Long Island City. A few Modelos and a couple insanely brilliant artists!
Brandon Friend and Jason Douglas Griffin are the talented duo behind the collaboration of mixed media works, GENTLEMAN’S GAME.
Complete personality opposites, they balance each other out perfectly like... PB&J. What they do have in common is their unwavering talent, humor and complete authenticity.
Each brings a unique force to their paintings, and over years of working together, their techniques have blended seamlessly that you can no longer tell who made which brush stroke. There’s an incredible amount of respect and trust between them that once they start a piece, they let the other do their thing without questioning their input.
As for their creative space, Ryan Commins perfectly captured it when he said, “ Inside of Brandon Friend and Jason Douglas Griffin’s studio is an entrance to a place called “The Atlantic.” A realm of constant, violent motion that demands an animal will for survival and the ingenuity to craft foggy concepts into concrete. It is a world not unlike our own, but the distractions of day-to-day minutia are stripped away. The artist’s role is to capture these visceral moments tied to our primordial, emerging nature.”
We discussed ninjas, their creative process and how they came to collaborate...
Our collaborative process is unique in that all of the work created is conceptualized, planned, researched, sketched out, and then executed by the both of us. It requires an incredible amount of trust and respect for the other in letting go of that sense of ownership one might have over a particular mark or gesture. We see it more like two musicians or two players on a team leading the other to the next move. It is a very exciting and freeform process from the beginning to end. We have an idea of where a piece is going and most often it takes on a new life in the execution of the piece. Our work is most interesting to us when there exists a balance of formal and informal elements. In other words, a harmony between representation and abstraction. Towards the end we both become increasingly aware of this state and one of us may say,
“My brush is down…” offering the piece to the other for any final statements.
As a collaborative, we create for ourselves but we are very interested in the many ways our work connects with people. Our work is intended for the eyes of everyone and not just the eyes of the art elite. We continue to push ourselves creatively and often will get many inquiries about our mixed media process but we also love to discuss the informal narratives and themes within the work.
Do you recognize yourself in your work
We have been working as a collaborative for several years now and at the beginning it was fairly clear to us who made a particular mark, we would possibly say even for the viewer. Our skill sets have melded in a way that at this point it is very ambiguous to who has done one thing or the other. It is inherently part of our consciousness as we take turns working on a piece or even work simultaneously to recognize how something has shifted or changed. It is a constant play of give and take. Our work is a visual representation of our experiences and influences as well as how we’ve influenced each other. It is an ongoing dialogue working in the narrative of our latest series “Atlantic” which is set in a future world covered by water.
Do you feel that having an 'assigned' creative space enhances your productivity?
Absolutely. For the art we make, it’s a necessity.
From client relations, to scheduling studio visits, to creating deadlines, having representation provides relief on the business side of art. The less time we spend in the studio doing business/admin stuff, the more time we get to paint.
We have been working side by side in our studio since 2008. On 11.11.11 we had a two person show Identity Crisis that featured our individual work and a wall of over 50 collaborative works which we had long waited for the opportunity to investigate and produce. What we had discovered by being both the participant and observer in this turn by turn process was that it elevated our individual practice and challenged each of us in ways which we had not seen in our solo works. Similarly prevalent amongst musicians that work together, we found the artistic process exciting and opened the gates for “happy accidents” that extended beyond just the material.
Thus, we created an image for that show that represented this back and forth… an Art Game of Chess… depicting two figures from our individual series at the time, actively peering over the line up of chess pieces from across the table. This painting Gentleman’s Game was conceived as a metaphor for the turn by turn mark making that we’ve employed in our latest work and naturally became our title for work we would create as a duo from that point on.
Do you consider yourself emerging artists
Yes, we do. An emerging artist is one who is actively showing, is gaining recognition, and consistently creating good art.
Jason makes digital music in the studio, beats and what not. Brandon enjoys video editing, playing sports, watching movies, listening to music, going to shows. Who has time for hobbies anyway…
Sundays - we’re probably spending the better part of the day with our families, maybe studio time in the evening. There are many late nights.
We love the NY art community, there’s nothing like it in the world. It’s a melting pot of different cultures, classes, and personalities. I think we’re both inspired by that quality in NYC in general - the variety, the opportunity.
Near the end of his career, Rothko, abandoned all attempts at responding to those who inquired after the meaning and purpose behind his paintings. Finally responding that silence is 'so accurate'. How would you describe the meaning and purpose behind your work?
Our art is our voice. It is our way of placing ourselves in the context with the world we live in.