August FFAT: Jeffie Brewer
Jeffie Brewer’s unpretentious exhibition of sculpture and drawings opened at gallery 5&J this Friday. A professor at Stephen F Austin State University, Brewer has as much experience in the world of graphic design as he does in fine art. It shows in his works; each object is clean and slickly constructed. The exhibition’s drawings are pastel and the sculptures are of steel, plaster, and plastic. Consistent in style across the exhibition, they strongly reminisce graphics-based pop art style of Keith Haring’s work around 1990.
In his sculptures, the mode of creation in achieving this style is involved, while the effect is not. In “no one is watching you”, a large teal-blue steel creation, a crab-walking figure stares at the viewer in profile, provided the viewer is in front of or behind the sculpture. Texture-less, powder-coated steel forms a shape that, viewed head on, looks like one of Brewer’s drawings, but is inscrutably 4 inches or so deep. Creating what looks like an intentionally 2D shape in 3D is neither new nor inherently provocative (Jean DuBuffet reached peak sketch-as-sculpture in the 1960s), and the dimensions are neither mechanically necessary to hold the structure nor pronounced enough to demand attention in themselves. They occupy a middle ground between the flatness-suggesting object and the object-suggesting flat composition, leaving you to wonder what they offer that a drawing would not.
In the pastel drawings, however, this aesthetic works—it is undemandingly, uncomplicatedly comic and cheerful (“idiot boy” draws a penis in negative space on a wildly flailing figure). He uses a minimum of alternation between flat planes of varying colors to bring forth lively shapes and figures in the composition. These also largely follow graphical aesthetics that came before, but averting any accusation of derivativeness, they recollect pleasantly.
*We searched our cameras and the internet for "idiot boy" but were unable to find an image. Guess you'll have to go see for yourself! 5&J on view by appointment through the Charles Adams Studio Projects. Images courtesy of Madeline Hensler. You can find more of Jeffie's work on his website.
*The author's opinions are his own.