In Life & In Work
I’ve always been inspired by people that could live freely and independently by doing what they loved. Especially artists. For me, being an independent artist is the only way of fleeing the system where you don’t need to work for the ideals of someone else. It’s important to be free to create exactly what you have in mind. Philippe Starck ones said ‘’The only style is freedom’’.
Speaking of quotes, I always keep this one from Warhol in mind and try to apply it in my process: “Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” Because you can’t please everyone.
I have many quotes that I cherish, for a last one, it would have to be my brother Brent’s quote: ‘’Realising you made an error is an accomplishment’’. I think it’s still important to question your work, even if Warhol is kind of saying the opposite. Since my goal is to perfection myself with every new piece.
I had the chance to travel in Europe a lot and it’s a never ending source of inspiration every time I set foot there. The country I’ve visited the most is France, where the architecture, history, lifestyle and classical art have influenced me big time. Went to Barcelona, the land of Goudy. The place that best translates the freeness of creation and expression. Spanish culture is eccentric, colorful and flamboyant, it gave birth to many important artists such as Picasso, Dali, Goudy, and Velasquez to name a few. Prague, a true dreamland which I finally had the chance to experience. Frozen in time and untouched by War, it preserved every detail of its history, a total immersion in time. The architecture and art has inspired me greatly. And Berlin, where war has contributed paradoxically to art! When the wall fell, artists were finally free to express themselves and mix together to become a major hub for art today.
Places that inspire me apart from traveling, are those special moments where I find myself once in a while, like late at night when I paint. I love that feeling where I feel I’m the only one awake, alone in the world with no distractions. That’s where the creative juices flow. Mozart used to work late at night, lots of artists in history did.
Wandering around and observing people’s behaviors or going through my classical art books, listening to art documentaries, philosophizing about art with my girlfriend and just looking at what’s being done in arts today online.
From Spielberg to Robert Williams, as well as Warhol, Todd Schorr, Rockwell, even Disney, and Heavy Metal vinyl album covers laying around in my brother's room as a kid. Back then, I thought my cartoons would never be taken seriously and would never end in a museum one day. I was fascinated by the works of the great masters, Fragonard, Boucher or Bosch. The place that best translates the freeness of creation and expression.
My many years in design and advertising have also greatly influenced my style and my communicative language. I sometimes use the same recipes as in advertising, where the product, that’s not always good for you, is packaged in an aesthetical fashion so to grab your attention. Ones you consume the product, you start realizing what’s under that packaging! It’s a way for me to share thoughts or messages of society, by hiding them with sugar coatings of bright and even calming colors. Helping to get the conversation across. It’s a way of luring people in to get their attention. For me, the idea that a static image can have the power to transcend an audience or communicate many things in a single glimpse is a precious and profound thing.
Today, my work is about communicating our modern times, inspired by classical art to make history live through our era and striving to reinvent a Baroque aesthetic made for today.
Fresh Montreal artist Bruce Mc Gowan Brings a Mélange of Antiquity and Modernity to Art Expo, NYC
By Mandy Urena
Montreal artist, Bruce Mc Gowan is the true story of an overnight success having been discovered in February of 2018 by Sotheby’s looking for the next generation of contemporary artists from the field of advertising. Eric Shiner, director of the Warhol Museum, was on the panel and McGowan was handpicked from a selection of 50 contenders worldwide.
Chosen for his bright and whimsical work with its thought-provoking contemporary themes and characters, Mc Gowan has a unique chic. He brings classical art, especially from the Baroque and Rococo periods, into this century—a creative mélange of past and present to evolve pop art to a new level. His style of work has been touted as “pop-Rococo” or “contemporary surrealism”. Why marry the two? “There’s a parallel between the ostentatiousness of the Baroque period and the self-obsessed selfie culture of today”, says the artist.
Mc Gowan uses art to create characters and ambiences to tell a story. This philosophy is evident in his Skin Deep portrait which represents the Bourgeoisie. The beauty of the painting is the aristocrat’s decorative costume and elaborately-coiffed wig, but her face is portrayed as only an anatomical expression with exposed musculature rendering her almost disagreeable. It is this contrast for which he is becoming known. Historically, the whiter a person’s skin, the more bourgeois they appeared and by stripping his subject of her skin, Mc Gowan’s character appears more real—the underlying message being that we are all the same underneath the superficiality.
His body of work is influenced by the cartoons and figurated art of his childhood and the fantastica storytelling of Spielberg’s movies, his contemporary themes and vibrant colors attracting millennial collectors. Millennial Meltdown depicts a colorful intergalactic war of corporate greed and commercialism—a demon terrorizing Generation Y. There are political and religious symbols to provoke thought as well as themes of social awareness like sexual identity and the “Me Too” movement. Mc Gowan is aware that his work can be unsettling, but he sugarcoats it with pastel unicorns, bright pink hues, striped lollipops and McDonald’s Golden arches. “As long as the art provokes thought”, he says.
His work is not only a confluence of two worlds that usually don’t collide, but of mediums that usually don’t mix; he has no restraints and follows no rules. Traditionally, an artist might use noble materials of wood and cardboard for a classical production, and modern elements such as acrylic and metallics for a contemporary piece, but Mc Gowan incorporates a clash of multi-media mixing oils and acrylics, plastics and fiber-glass to reflect our modern products.
Mc Gowan’s creations are representative of his strong 25-year advertising background, using the tactic of brightly colored packaging to appeal to the consumer. He achieves this by mounting his pieces on selfsculpted frames, which become part of the artwork and are just as beautiful. It is ironic that his former day job was to encourage the public to consume, telling us how and what to eat and drink, but at night, his art rebelled against that very concept. Being selected by Sotheby’s has enabled him to launch his fulltime career as an artist. Bruce Mc Gowan is indeed an overnight success story and the future looks bright–pop- ococo bright.
Mc Gowan’s work will be on display at Artexpo New York City, April 4th – 7th, 2019.