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Making Sense of ‘Objects of Little Importance’ With Vancouver Artist David Briker

Photo of David by Johann Wall.

Objects of Little Importance is the latest project from Vancouver-based artist, David Briker. Each painting portrays a collection of six randomly selected items from the personal spaces of 15 Vancouver creatives. The concept was inspired by a friend of the artist’s who passed away, and the apparent transformation of their belongings into meaningless objects left behind.

All of the fifteen original paintings are on display at the elusive 11 gallery until January, 2021. The collection is also published in a hardbound book, with the first edition limited to only 50 copies.

“The project title refers to things that we own, cherish or collect and the impermanent nature of our lives and the value of the things that we surround ourselves with. The project is also just as much about being inspired, creating connection and the endless curiosity we have for our fellow humans.” — David Briker.

Why did you choose to focus on fellow artists’ spaces specifically? What was it about this demographic that appealed to you and/or what mystery about ‘the artist’ were you hoping to uncover?

I chose to focus on people’s living spaces and/or studios (as many artists spend so much time in their studio). The idea was to work with objects that were just simply found in people’s homes. Sometimes they have some special meaning; sometimes they are very ordinary and sometimes may even be garbage. I chose artists sort of by default, mainly because I seem to know a lot of them and I have access to them and their spaces. There is no mystery that these drawings are attempting to crack whatsoever; rather, this project is of a humble nature in regard to real, in-person human interaction and connection and, in a larger scope, it can be viewed more on a philosophical and existential level.

During the creation of this series, what was it that made the chosen objects jump out at you? Did you consider the final painting’s composition, or the project as a whole, when you were picking the objects?

I was adamant to not let the subjects give me objects of their choosing as I felt subconsciously they would try to sway things a certain way. I chose objects very much with final composition of each painting in mind. I tried always mixing more interesting with very banal objects. There were certain things that I gravitated to often, such as shoes (obvious reasons), materials used in art making, and things with branding on them.

What are the “obvious reasons” for gravitating towards shoes, if you don’t mind indulging me?

Well you know a person’s shoes is a tiny glimpse into their soul haha… I find shoes and the state they are in, to be often very revealing 😉 Van Gogh painted his own boots and shoes often. He knew it was pretty much a self portrait…

Now that you’ve had time to survey the painting series in its entirety, what observations or conclusions have you made? Was there anything unexpected that you learned about your subjects and/or yourself?

Surprisingly and very unexpectedly to me, a mere 6 objects do give us some intimate glimpse, albeit small into a person.

The artist’s own six objects, from his Objects of Little Importance series.

If you had to examine your own personal space and pick out six items to represent yourself, what would they be?

One of the paintings is of my own objects. It is actually and fittingly the first of the series (not including the first one I did at my house in LA).

I know that initially you had planned on travelling to cities around the world to continue this project. Now that the COVID pandemic has put restrictions on international travel for the indefinite future, how do you plan to adapt to this new global scenario? What’s next for you?

Yes absolutely, the plan for this project is do it in as many cities around the world as possible. 15-20 paintings of interesting people’s stuff in each city and then publish a book and do a show in each city. So far, I have resisted any suggestions of subjects sending me digital mages of their objects or doing “virtual tours” of people’s homes to pick objects. The idea of this project is, to make real, in-person life connections with people and their spaces. That is part of this whole thing. In some way, this project is a way to resist all this current business of “virtual viewing rooms” and the inevitable wave of Virtual Reality that is about to come crashing down on us in the near future. I also prefer to paint the objects “from life”.

I did most of these paintings during the pandemic (however it was started before March 2019) and I visited and spent time with every one of the subjects, both when I picked up the objects and when I returned them. That was a very gratifying and fun experience. I was also adamant about having an actual physical show and opening which we were lucky to have managed to do prior to current lockdown restrictions. Several openings, each limited to a small number of guests were held at 11 Gallery, which is located in a domestic environment somewhere in the city. We will do private viewings by appointment once we are able to again.

I am very hopeful and optimistic that COVID restrictions will not be here forever and that travel will resume sooner or later once people start to get vaccinated. I had plans to start work on the Los Angeles paintings this month, but obviously had to postpone until the situation changes. As soon as things ease up, the plan is to continue this series in LA, and then hopefully Toronto, NYC, and Madrid , etc., in 2021. That’s the plan 🙂

I remain optimistic.

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