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Titus O'Brien – bio

Titus O’Brien is an artist, writer, and educator, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 2013. He is the Assistant Curator of Art at the Albuquerque Museum. He has taught studio art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, the University of Texas, Yale University, Naropa University, and Santa Fe University of Art and Design, among other institutions. He has shown his work nationally and internationally, most recently in a solo exhibition at Exhibit/208 in Albuquerque in late 2016. He has written extensively about art and other subjects for a wide range of publications, including Artforum, Artlies,, Buddhadharma magazine, THE Magazine, and others. He received an MFA from Yale, and BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. Titus is also a Zen Buddhist priest, serving communities in both New Mexico and Chicago.

Artist Statement

An art object is a total embodiment of values. Aesthetics includes everything. A painting is a small thing. It doesn’t broadcast very far; but the greatest art carries a steady signal. Relatively simple means allows for the perception of more universal truths. In the composition of this work, the vertical, the horizontal, and the diagonal elements, deployed in a game-like system using chance systems, provides a literal framework (the mind is the circle; it’s needn’t be depicted). Numbers count. This undercarriage provides a sufficiently varied rhythmic matrix upon which I lay down the eight colors included in each painting, over a black background. Seven colors are sublimated to a top layer which unifies the work, and serves to keep it from being mistaken as decoration.

I consider each of these elements to be resonant with healing potential and insight (just unifying up, down, left, right, motion and stillness in the eye/heart/mind is no mean feat). This insight is a gestalt thing, neither overly analytical or sentimental, nor an obviously political, religious, or philosophical thing – though there is the implication of the potential unity of these disciplines, too. The paintings are phenomenological, non-symbolic realities unto themselves, not needing mine or anyone else’s pre-mastication. I can say they are produced with a healing intent, prayers of a sort. I mostly paint with my non-dominant hand, challenging myself to stay present; every brushstroke fails just a little bit. They’re made in a practice of intentional presence, as a total appreciation for things as it is. They invoke complex feeling, and a quiet mind. I experience them as a great balancing: a thousand dualities (ones and zeros) actualized and brought into gently challenging harmonies.

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