Paul Brainard

Artist Q&A with Paul Brainard

“Lexicon Leader”, oil on linen, 40 x 55 in | 102 x 140 cm, oil on linen, 2020

Why did you become an artist?

I really don’t think that I had a choice. Making art is something that i do every single day; it is in my blood.

Paul Brainard, self portrait with child

How is your work different than everything else out there?

II think that it is an interesting blend of the absurdity of existence, modernist formalism and vulnerable self effacement. 

What’s different about your current body of work?

I am simultaneously trying to combine elements of the personal and the formal in a way that makes a very diverse visual language.

“Moron at the Genius Bar”, oil on linen, 18 x 17 in | 45 x 42 cm, 2020

What’s coming up for you?

I just did two shows back-to-back at the Java Project Brooklyn. The first one “Covid Kids Club” was work that was made during the Covid – 19 lockdown in NYC. March and April were especially difficult in Queens with constant sirens and death all around you. I was a few miles from the epicenter of the epicenter of Covid -19 in the first wave, so it was comforting to stay home and make art. The second show at the Jave Project is “The boring Gaze” a group show of NYC and Danish Artists co-rated by myself and Frodo Mikkelsen. It was very difficult to install 15 artists in such a confined space but i am very happy with the result . The gallery is open by appointment from November 7th to December 7th, 2020.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out today?

Listen to your own inner voice because this is the thing that makes you a special individual like no other. You must always believe in yourself and continue to make work for its own sake and in time your conviction will prevail over those that quit. Never give in. 

When is a piece finished for you?

I think when i walk into the studio and i don’t see a problem I know it is done.

What are the influences and inspirations in your new works?

Some things i have been combining in recent works. Architecture of tombstones, pornography/advertising, pictures from everyday life in New York City, flag designs, propaganda imagery, religious imagery. There are a 1,000 things i see everyday that i would like to develop into an artwork. The possibilites are infinite. It is exciting to feel that kind of promise after such a long time of struggle. Death and loss prove to be a powerful motivator to make your life become your dreams. This has always been the primary objective in making my art.

Tell us about a few of your career highlights or moments that greatly affected your career?

My solo show “Living Dead” in 2010 in Prague was incredible. I worked away for years and years in Brooklyn in obscurity and finally at long last had it pay off with a huge solo show in this beautiful European city in a huge gallery. I got interviewed for television and the show was positively reviewed in the Czech press. It was so exciting to be a Brooklyn artist in Prague, i had lots of crazy artwork and they loved it. In 2004 i had a gross rat infested basement studio in Williamsburg Brooklyn. I was able to get a studio visit from Julie Mehretu. She bought a piece from me, an incredibly morbid and dark image entitled “Whitey”. I respect her and her work so much that it really meant a lot to me to have one of my favorite artists come to my studio and buy something.

“Passive Aggressive Waste Solutions”, pencil on paper, 22 x 30 in | 56 x 76 cm, 2020

To learn more about Paul and his work, please visit