New Orleans-based artist Brent Houzenga embraces his own personal intersection of punk, pop art, and philosophy. His latest solo show at Inner Recess is called "Integrating the Shadow." At first glance you might not think the word shadow is appropriate for his super-bright, spraycan and stencil paintings, but as usual with Houzenga, there's a lot of layers you don't notice at first.
The title of the show actually comes from the idea of using the parts of the mind that aren't usually accessed. Houzenga's work has such a ritual and routine to it—applying and removing tape, using familiar stencils, waving the spraycan—that he was interested in what would happen if he broke his pattern and started working with his left hand. Would he be retraining his brain or accessing new parts of his mind? Carl Jung believed that a psychic shadow lives outside of our awareness and our interactions with it help shape our personal identity both positively and negatively.
The experiment also started in part because of a nagging pain in Houzenga’s right elbow. Sometimes acting on our most basic instincts like avoiding pain can have creative consequences.
Houzenga is a student of these small moments that can change our lives forever, those random collisions of emotion that alter the course of our lives. In 2006 he discovered an album of late 19th century portraits lying in someone's trash. He had an immediate response to the beauty of the pictures as well as the fact that the last remaining images of some long gone family were almost never seen again. He rescued the album and has been using stencils based on the people in it ever since.
Many of the pieces in “Integrating the Shadow” show how far his evolution has come. Houzenga’s pattern and color work has become more and more complex, and his constant experimentation with his own personal format results in recognizable changes in mood or vision. You can scan his work and it will have an impact, but lean in further and you’ll see that every piece has its own inner space.
“Integrating the Shadow” opens Saturday, April 5th at 8pm at Inner Recess, 1068 Magazine Street in New Orleans, LA.