DNA, opening February 23 at Fabrik Gallery in Culver City, is a two-person exhibition by father and son duo Brandon and Stuart Kusher. While father Stuart is a sculptor and creator of deeply dimensional wall art, and Brandon a photographic artist, the pair is bound by more than blood.
Both have a unique eye for capturing haunting images that seem to inhabit the light in which they are created. Many have an internal burnished quality that goes beyond medium into a world view and artistic aesthetic.
As to medium, Stuart is exhibiting sculptural works that range from throughout his 50-year practice, while Brandon will be showing both black and white and color photographic works.
Stuart works primarily in bronze sculpture, with his own fresh take on the technique of old masters. He calls himself “inspired” by the classics, and influenced by 13th century Italian sculptor Nicola Pisano. Through that inspiration, he looks deeply at the subject of his own mortality. Precise and glorious, his works exude a richly symbolic power. They are somehow both delicately rendered and viscerally, sweepingly strong.
Images such as the winged “The Messenger” are vivid with passion. The female figure is soaring to ecstatic ascension, a white patina masking her classic bronze. She’s surrounded by skulls and candles, described by the artist as “catacombs of the mind” and “the pillars of humanity.” In “The Scribe,” the feather-pen the figure holds echoes his wings; he appears to be wearing a jester’s mask; a prescient comment on the act of written creation. His depiction of wings is almost ethereal, perfectly done, somehow poised and ready for flight despite the weightiness of the bronze medium.
According to Stuart his work is about his way of seeing in the world. “I always say it’s 99% observation and 1% application. Looking, thinking, using only one’s imagination to breathe life into an in adamant object, one that has a soul and will speak back to you. That’s what my work is about. It’s not what it should be, but what it could be.”
The life-long sculptor says that his work is “a finger-based thought process, while Brandon’s work is a reality-based process. In the end, it’s all about the work.”
He adds that “Brandon and I have been working together since he was around five year’s old. He was exposed to locations and sets at an early age, as I was doing print, TV, and outdoor advertising on a national basis. It’s been exciting to watch him grow his creative vocabulary to this point in time.” The elder Kusher was a top creative executive working in advertising and the recording industry.
Stuart describes watching his son’s work as “Looking at scene, having conversations with total strangers. His work is seated in reality. People, places, looking for that image, that magical statement. He’s aware it’s not about pretty pictures, but about observation and story. I guess that’s where my work is similar, in that observation.”
For his part, Brandon says his father “showed me the fundamentals of image- making, and helped me to understand what might make a good photo. So, to now show my work alongside his feels special, since I have him to thank for helping me to develop my eye and encouraging me to always be curious.”
Brandon describes his own work as “rooted in reality, whereas my father’s work is founded in his imagination. Although that is a drastic difference, I will say that one part of our process is very similar – we spend lots of time observing. My work might be out there in the world and his takes place in his studio, but the art of observation connects our bodies of work together.”
A trip to New York with his father when he was just 15 helped Brandon to develop his love of photography. “He showed me that sometimes it takes a long time to capture a moment. I am always looking for that special mixture of light, composition, and that moment that makes it memorable.” He muses that “Sometimes I walk and walk and walk and get nothing, but I very much enjoy the process of looking and observing. So, if I end up with a good picture, it feels like a reward for living in the moment.”
Examining work such as “Flip,” a photograph of young acrobats on Venice Beach, one sees Brandon’s own take on the human spirit and aspects of ascension. Perfectly captured in mid-air, surrounded by a resonant golden light, a young boy flips through the air. He is missing literal wings, but surely has found them figuratively. The photograph is smooth, nothing blurred, a moment of the infinite. In “Heat Wave #2, Portland, Oregon” the black and white figures arise from an abstract and lush flow of fountain water, creating a sense of baptism and succor.
DNA opens from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, February 23rd at Fabrik Gallery. It runs through March 30th.