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Paul Brigham has spent a number of years reading Zen philosophy, practicing Tai Chi, and studying Asian art and aesthetics. He downplays his formal artistic training and cites as more influential the education received from his firsthand experience of nature. His recent paintings are inspired by the tradition of ukiyo-e, “the floating world”, specifically Japanese bird and flower prints. The challenge for Brigham has been to apply aspects of these traditions to his work in a way that respects but does not imitate them, and in a way that reflects his own experiences as a 21st Century painter living in California. To Brigham, the idea of the floating world describes the ephemeral and impermanent of our worldly existence.
Brigham’s technique consists of layering paint and silk-screened images and then using sandpaper to reveal elements from previous layer. This layering technique not only contributes to the depth and texture but also captures the effect of the transitory nature underlying everything and making them appear in a state of flux. The background Brigham has created reflects how the bird might see the world — it is serene and magical and the bird seems at home there.
One learns a landscape finally not knowing the name or identity of everything in it, but by perceiving the relationships in it — like that between the sparrow and the twig. — Barry Lopez, Crossing Open Ground