It’s short but sweet: DaDe Art & Design Lab is hosting Fourteen, a five-day solo show of the work of local artist David Brunning (a.k.a. TheKidBelo). If you’re familiar with his work (and many of you must be, as Brunning was voted best local artist in this year’s Fast Forward Weekly’s Best of Calgary listings), then, you’ll be pleased to find more of his bold, graffiti-based style among a selection of canvases,colourful chairs and cabinets. Arrive on opening night, and you’ll witness the finishing touches on a still-wet mural.
However, you’ll also find that Brunning’s art has morphed over the years: “I expect people to not be used to what I’m painting,” he says. “The imagery is different. It’s all part of what I’ve done, how it’s laid out is a lot different. People have taken me as a graffiti artist, but this art is more representational-abstract.”
The shift comes from deep inside, as Brunning explains: “This year, things changed. I came out of a lifestyle choice, and moved into a more clear, more healthy way of living, to challenge my creative process.”
He adds, “I also have learned over the last year or so to become quite honest with who I am and where I’m at. That’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but as an artist and as a person in general, if there’s no growth, no change, you get stagnant.”
There’s a lot of personal symbolism for Brunning wrapped up in this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it show. Fourteen also represents the number of years that Brunning has been painting; the five-day run corresponds closely to the day, five years ago, that Brunning left his day job to become the rare creature — a full-time artist.
“I’m one son of four boys. I’ve got one thumb, four fingers, that do all the work. And on the dark note of things, there was one man and four vices that I had.”
It’ll be up to you to interpret what those vices might have been, and the artwork invites you to contemplate deeper meanings. For example, a primarily text-based piece called “Relax” reads “We’re made for each other, we make each other.” But taking a closer look, out pops the letters W O R K.
“Without work, relationships fade,” says Brunning. Or take “Breathe,” subtitled “If I could take it back, I wouldn’t have learned a thing” — a riff on Djarum clove cigarettes. You’ll also find colourful, functional art in the cabinets and chairs, available to purchase and bursting with enough creativity to put your IKEA furniture to shame.
Particularly critical to this intensely personal show is a piece called “Rest,” made up of nine canvases depicting Brunning’s own face, screaming. Originally painted in 2009, the piece has never been shown, and has been waiting in a box for two years. With the context of Fourteen, it’s finally found its public stage.
If eyes are windows to the soul, so too are paintings.
“Every time you buy a piece of work from me, you’re buying a piece of my life at that time,” says Brunning. “The greatest thing that you can do as a person, is become honest with yourself to a point where you recognize the beauty and the flaws within yourself, and take responsibility for it all. That’s the charge behind this show.” Fourteen is a testament to flaws alchemized into beauty.