Kevin Briggs Photography

“The Way Home”

Kevin Briggs

Film noir director Edward Dmytryk’s famous statement — “In art, the obvious is a sin” — applies to this work (as it does to many others as well). 

As a result of the fact that my brother Kendall has lived in New York City for nearly 30 years, somewhat regular visits to the area have given me the opportunity to become well acquainted with the metropolis’ remarkable contributions to the arts, e.g. the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), SoHo, and other galleries.

One of the artists that had the greatest impact upon me during these extended visits has been Mark Rothko.

On a superficial examination, Rothko’s works may seem to be exceedingly rudimentary, elementary, or to some, “… That’s exactly what my three-year-old could draw if I gave him/her enough crayons and enough time…”

I remember specifically during a 1997 trip in which my brother and I happened to be in the MOMA gallery. We turned a corner and there was a large Rothko work. (The exact work escapes me at present.) Kendall’s very helpful comment was along the lines of, “… Just stop for a moment, relax your eyes, and look at the entire piece deeply, soaking everything in…”

Indeed, this was a watershed moment for me.

In short, what Rothko was able to accomplish with his blending of colors and particularly self-devised stains (which provided the contrast between colors) was to enable not only a sense of “floating colors” as they have been repeatedly described, but a remarkable coherence with respect to color in general. Yet at the same time — and this was and is more critical to me — there was still an intrinsic balance to his work that represents the foundation of all great art.

“The Way Home” is not intended to replicate Rothko in any way. It is also not an homage to Rothko’s work.  More particularly it is not intended to represent a sense of “color cohesion” characteristic of Rothko’s style. 

Nevertheless, the more time has progressed the more I continue to see the same fundamental form and balance of the work replicating what I had come to love in Rothko’s abstracts. And in a sense, I have tried to utilize my own “digitally-based stain work” throughout in order to emphasize both direct and indirect contrasts.

The second artist that has influenced “The Way Home” is (believe it or not) Andy Warhol. As I have noted in many past commentaries on my color-abstract-photography work, the greatest influence with respect to color has always been Chagall. But Chagall’s color is almost always soft and much of the time that which pertains to a dream state. In “The Way Home” I wanted something much more brash, hence Warhol’s influence.

In the most succinct of summaries I can provide, I think of “The Way Home” as a more modern day “yellow brick road,” this time one that is much more 20th and 21st century as the yellow brick road has now become asphalt. Not only asphalt, but asphalt reflecting the neon and other city colors so prevalent in our industrialized societies. It is a carefully crafted combination of photography and abstract art, a digital confluence of the two mediums.

Finally, as it pertains to this specific work, I want to bring in one other quick artistic quote simply because it represents everything about what I do with color abstract photography: “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.” Picasso’s statement is perfectly apt because I did not set about to make what you see in the final work that is now “The Way Home.” It began as something very different. Each of my color-abstract-photography pieces always does. But then, and after process of time — as this work took more than 14 months to complete — it became very much an indirect homage, if you will, to Rothko and Warhol.

Who knew?