Panpsychism: Gregory Brellochs’ artistic exploration of individual and collective consciousness
AN INTERVIEW WITH GREGORY BRELLOCHS
Where were you born?
I grew up in Ithaca, NY. I didn’t realize until later that growing up in the Finger Lakes Region, with all of its gorges, waterfalls, and forests, would have a significant impact of my interests and aesthetic as an artist.
Where do you currently live?
I moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2002 and have lived in the city ever since. I have a house in the Mt. Airy neighborhood which is like an urban version of Ithaca with its beautiful old homes, trees, and nearby river and hiking trails.
Please tell us about your education.
I completed my undergraduate studies in sculpture at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, in 1997. After graduating I moved to Munich, Germany, where I lived for five years before returning to the United States and moving to Philadelphia. I completed my graduate studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, in 2004.
Do you work with a gallery?
I have primarily exhibited my work in academic, university and college settings, as well as at museums and art centers. I am not currently represented by a commercial gallery.
Please tell us about your career highlights.
Some of the awards and fellowships I have received for my work are the 2018 Meyer Family Award for Contemporary Art, the William D. Davis Award for Drawing at the Art of the State Exhibition in Harrisburg, PA (2011), the Center for Emerging Visual Artists CDP Fellowship (2009), and The Wind Challenge Exhibition Series at the Fleisher Art Memorial (2007). My work has been featured in eleven solo shows, eight two-three person shows, and numerous juried group shows over the past thirteen years. My work was also accepted for inclusion in the Viewing Program through The Drawing Center in New York City (2007).
What inspires you?
My work reflects my interest in the natural sciences, cognitive science, philosophy, aesthetics, and the art making process itself. I find that my inspiration comes from many places, not least from the vast array of complex forms, textures, and structures to be found in nature.
Please tell us about your concept.
I find that the immediate and direct process of drawing serves as a means by which I can meditate on the fundamental nature of things. I see image-making as a way of creating not just a physical relationship to concepts, but a sensual and emotional one as well. I want my work to be felt, not just experienced. I want the concepts that I am exploring to resonate with the viewer on a basic visceral level. Like Niels Bohr’s self titled model once served to make the concept of an atom’s structure visually and conceptually accessible, so too am I interested in employing my art and the process of drawing as a way of visualizing and graphically realizing concepts which speak to a layer of reality beyond the senses, bringing such concepts back into a world of physical relationships that we can more readily relate to and grasp.
The subjects that have most dramatically captured my interest are linked to the following ideas: string theory presents us with the concept of sub-plank-length ‘strings’ that must somehow join to create ever larger amalgamations of energy, resulting in the physical universe we perceive. Ultimately, this process must also account for the emergence of self replicating organisms and their corresponding levels of consciousness. Chaos theory presents us with methods for modeling a universe in which an underlying order to the seemingly chaotic is revealed. In essence, chaos theory seeks to reveal the ‘ghost in the machine’ by recognizing variables in a system that give rise to and result in emergent qualities of behavior. Evolutionary biology and the study of the genome reveals common heritage. From our nearest primate ancestors to the most primitive bacteria, each organism has a percentage of its genes in common, in other words, all biological life is expressed in a common, programmed language (what are genes other than code written in organic materials?). Lastly, emergent intelligence and the theory of panpsychism in cognitive science begs the question, is intelligence, in its most rudimentary form, simply the byproduct of the organization of physical matter? Is intelligence an emergent characteristic inherent in any highly organized system?
It is through my art and the exploration of such questions as these that I seek to capture and express a sense of mystery, beauty, and wonder for the world we live in and for the world the mind.
What is your current project and your next goal?
Currently, I am part of a three-person exhibition opening next week at Mount Airy Contemporary, I will be participating in the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours in October, and I have a solo show in December at the Allens Lane Art Center, also in Philadelphia. I have the good fortune of being a fulltime professor and the coordinator of the visual arts programs at Camden County College in Blackwood, New Jersey. This allows me the freedom to literally ‘follow the muse’ artistically, wherever it might lead me. As for what series or projects are to come next, I cannot say for sure. What I can say is that since I maintain a regular studio practice drawing almost every night of the week, the next series is sure to make itself known in short order.
What are your thoughts about THE LINE DRAWING PROJECT?
I will admit that participating in the LINE DRAWING PROJECT was the first time that I have been part of a project of this nature. Typically, I work alone, and only very rarely have I done any collaborative work. The project presented me with a fun and interesting challenge as I sought to respond to the works presented before mine, and to somehow find a bridge that would connect aspects of their conceptual exploration with those of my own. In the process, it was important to me that I remain true to myself artistically, and not make something out of keeping with the rest of my work. It was equally important to me that I take on the challenge of the project and look to incorporate and respond to the others’ works. I am happy with the resulting drawing and have plans to explore that particular form language and its potential further.
It was a pleasure. Thank you very much, Gregory.
Gregory Brellochs, Quintesence
‘Construction 8’, 2017
Graphite on paper
30" x 50"
Graphite on paper
48" x 48"
Graphite on paper
21" x 32"