Interview with Brian Lacey AKA detroit baklava

Interview with Brian Lacey AKA detroit baklava

Brian Lacey (b. 1988) alias detroit baklava, is an artist and muralist that resides in Detroit, Michigan. Drawing his inspiration from material choices and the symbolism of memories, he explores the juxtaposition of paint, street posters, and repurposed materials that result in hard-edged geometry, figurative and realistic portrayals, and highly-textural, abstract expressive works.  

Still Lifespan, 2017

His studio work and practice allows for exploration in the development of new techniques and tools, allowing the space and attention to focus on the role of nuance and detail. For him, this leads to new innovation and exploration in his large-scale mural work. This reiterative process helps to inform, influence and strengthen his public artwork. Stylistic influences he is currently exploring in his mural work are a direct result of methods, techniques, and materials explored within this body of work.

The series of work presented in Studio Visit: Brian Lacey examines the relationships we have with our environments, and the coinciding implications of these experiences. Some works can be viewed as preludes to others. Within the facets of his practice, reuse and material appropriation are intended as a transformation to strengthen dimensionality through layered documentation. Combined with his personal history, this creates a metamorphism from one state to another that defines the resilience and adaptability of human identity within the context of both individual and societal change.

Learn more about the series of artwork now available by Brian Lacey on Artsy. This exclusive Viewing Room will close to the public on Saturday, May 31st.

What are some of the themes this series of work explores?

While painting “Father Figure,” I was presented with examining the precursors and contributing factors of trauma, and in turn, the outcome trauma plays later in our lives. This leading into the exploration of the disease of addiction as presented in the piece “Se Agit Et Scortum Ducat Ad Mortem”, and the prevalent theme found in pieces such as “Charming By Contrast” and “Still Lifespan” that examine conflict through unhealthy, interpersonal relationships.

Father Figure, 2019

In full, the body of works serves as a concise timeline illustrating cause and effect.

What inspires you about Detroit?

The material resources! Immense inspiration is found in the coinciding ingenuity and wealth of material resources at our disposal. Seeing the drive to create through adversity itself is a huge inspiration. Also, having a “small feel” in a major city is refreshing, humbling, and always keeps me down to earth and community-oriented in my approach.

What’s your favorite part of your process?

The flow state while working is both therapeutic and priceless. I love working with aerosol, in conjunction with traditional painting techniques, and the unintentional outcomes that are presented through experimentation and mistakes are outcomes that I live to discover.

How is your studio work different than your mural or commercial work?

Between studio painting and murals, the scale of work is the most notable difference. My studio work allows for exploration in furtherance in the development of new techniques and tools while allowing the space and attention to focus on the role of nuance and detail. This leads to new innovation and exploration in my large scale, public, and commercial work.

Mural by detroit baklava

While there are distinct differences between the two, they go hand in hand serving to inform and influence and strengthen one another. Stylistic influences I am now exploring in my mural work are a direct product of the methods, techniques, and materials I explored within this body of work.

Image credit, Paul Lee (@n0parking)

Brian Lacey (b. 1988) alias detroit baklava, is an artist and muralist, born in Pontiac, Michigan, that resides in Detroit, Michigan. He has his Bachelor of Fine Art in Illustration from the College for Creative Studies. Lacey has held Residencies at Red Bull Arts Detroit, and Fortress Studios and was selected as an Artist representing the United States, at Imago Mundi at the 2013 Venice Biennale, in Venice, Italy. Group exhibitions include: “A Piece In Time” at SPACEWOMb in New York City (2014); “Triage: Brian Lacey” at #Hashtag in Toronto (2015), and “Detroit Abstraction, curated By Rick Vian” at Janice Charach in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (2016) and exhibited with Superchief at Aqua Art Miami Art Fair, Miami Beach (2018). 

His practice focuses on large-scale public murals for clients which include Amazon, LifeWtr, TIDAL, Sierra Mist, and PassionHouse Coffee Roasters. His work has been shown alongside established artists such as Charles McGee, Nancy Mitchnick, Peter Williams, Kenny Scharf, and Swoon and has been featured in Mass Appeal, Huffington Post, Vanity Fair UK, and Vice Canada. 

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