Biography photo by Chris Sanders
Brian Belott (born 1973 in East Orange, New Jersey) lives and works in New York.
Belott was included in the Whitney Biennial 2019. He has exhibited internationally with solo gallery exhibitions including Morán Morán (Los Angeles), Loyal Gallery (Stockholm), Tanya Leighton (Berlin), Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York), CANADA Gallery (New York). Belott’s work has been exhibited at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), COBRA Museum (Amstelveen), Yuz Museum (Shanghai), The Jewish Museum (New York), MoCAD (Detroit), The Aldrich Museum (Ridgefield), and Musee d’Art Moderne (Saint-Etienne).
Brian Belott’s work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York).
Combination, reconfiguration, confusion: each plays a vital role, for Belott is a great assembler of things. (“Everything is about fusion”, he noted in 2017.) Throughout his career, he has playfully situated dissimilar objects, ideas and found oddities alongside one another in order to see what they might create. Box fans and cotton balls; collections of children’s books; found calculators bejewelled with stones; cats with clocks for eyes: Belott’s is a dadaist campaign intent on making ordinary things as weird as they can be and, in doing so, create a new kind of (wholly illogical) logic. “Not being precious is something I feel I’ve carried throughout my life”, Belott once said, “purposely doing something stupid to see how it can rebalance.” Because the stupid is only stupid until it’s not stupid anymore, until it rebalances and starts to make a bizarre kind of sense. Rip it up, start again, see what you’ve got: a policy of endless revision that feels oddly familiar to the passing of people through life.
“The inevitability of its destruction creates more creativity”, Belott says, and there is surely a destructive, a punkish quality to this process of cut and paste and paint all over: a playful lack of respect for the intended uses of the objects that he turns his hand to. It is a roguish irreverence that informs, or is informed by, his derisory relationship with the conventions of art making itself, something exemplified by his tendency to eschew traditional presentation methods and damage his own work, and his frequent references to, and uses of, ‘techniques’ that are often associated with children. Belott’s petulant refusal to reject “primitive” forms of making chimes with his refusal to acknowledge the authority of the institution that is contemporary art. There is no hierarchy, here. There are simply things to be ripped up, reimagined and reassembled once again.
by Davide Raffaelli