I first encountered the painted work of Brittney West online a month or so ago, through a fellow painter, and was instantly pulled in by just the images themselves. They were visually different, which is something I greatly value, and after having a chance to experience her art up close, as well as getting a few hours of art-talk in her studio space downtown, the positive sentiment towards her as an artist became quite set in stone.
Simply put, the bulk of the work I’ve seen is a grand mixture, often featuring subjects with at least a partial intent towards realism, framed by a much more abstracted surrounding. No, this isn’t the first time this has been done, but in my experience I haven’t seen someone own the concept and make it theirs more-so, save for maybe Gustav Klimt (and that is one hell of a tall order). And even then, don’t be confused: West’s work is very much her own. For me personally, it draws my thoughts in towards the human subject in a way that allows the connection to its plight, for better or worse, to feel incredibly vivid―all while retaining the perhaps less tangible benefits of the more abstract surroundings.
Her current collection, the Chemotherapy Series, takes things a bit further and infuses her stylistic qualities with the communication of a close relationship with cancer. The balding visages seen in this set of paintings set the stage for the addressing of “acceptance and living life more full through facing fears.”
“With recurring images of these women during a vulnerable and distressing transition,” she continues, “I seek to illuminate their beauty in such a raw state, displaying their resilience through trying times and capture a moment of profound understanding.“
If you’d like to check out her work in person (and I obviously recommend it), she’ll be showing at the Corvallis Chamber Coalition in January (Jan. 5 to 31), the Benton Hospice Service for the entire month of February, and the Samaritan Regional Cancer Center for all of March (current collections include a cancer theme). Before all of that, though, be sure to visit the Arts Center’s Corrine Woodman Gallery where her work will be on display from Dec. 4 through Jan. 5.
In addition to her primary gallery career, West creates stunning pet portraits for local patrons. Gorgeous, hand-painted images are available on canvas in various sizes and price points. If Bowser needs to be immortalized, don’t use bronze (especially if he’s still alive), go for the oil paint option!
by Johnny Beaver