Brian Despain Art

  • The Stranger
  • Self Portrait
  • The Final Exodus
  • The Bartlett Regicide
  • The Exchange
  • A Vexing Quiet
  • The Discovery
  • The Dream

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A Vexing Quiet

A Vexing Quiet

Oil on wood
16 x 20

I use symbols in my painting a lot. I enjoy playing off people's pre-established notions of the world and as such I can vaguely direct their emotional state with my imagery, so, when they're looking at one of my paintings they're not just looking, they're experiencing. Of course this assumes a lot. First, a viewer will feel the same way about a given symbol. I try to get around this by using really broad concepts that all people seem to have a generally similar reaction to. Life, death, love and hate are good examples. Second, that a person will be able to readily associate all the disparate symbols of an image into a logical whole. This is a little more difficult and I try not to play too heavy a hand in this process. As I've stated before, I'd much rather a person bring their own ideas to an image rather than feel they are being dictated to. However, that aside, an artist needs to at least send the viewer down a general direction before leaving them to their own devices. Titles, I feel, play a significant role towards getting this done, they act as a kind of key to the image. They are the final piece that helps the viewer pull the image together and adds that final little touch, like a single note struck on a tuning fork that sets the tone for the chords to follow. To wit, I spend a great deal of time coming up with titles for my pieces. Too much information and the mystery is lost, too little and the title might as well not even be there to begin with. Sometimes the process goes smoothly and sometimes, as was the case here it's quite taxing.

I must have gone through at least ten to fifteen different titles, trying them on, letting them sit for fifteen minutes to a day, and then ultimately discarding them as not quite right. In a moment of pure panic I even, I'm embarrassed to say, thought about naming it "free bird". Ultimately "A Vexing Quiet" stuck. It's not the best title I've ever penned but it seems to fit the image on multiple levels. It also seemed to fit an image that struggled so greatly and almost in vain to find its voice. Symbolically that is.