Council of the God — Todestrieb Works

May 30 to June 23, 2019

Ampersand is pleased to present Council of the Gods — Todestrieb Works, an exhibition of paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographic works by Jason Brinkerhoff. It is, he says, a meditation on dying through the annihilation of prior works. In the weeks following the removal of a massive tumor in the front of his skull and the subsequent diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, the artist encountered a homeless man on the street holding a cardboard sign. Purchased from him and presented in the exhibition, it reads, “LIVING OUTDOORS, PLEASE HELP, THANKS, GOD BLESS!“. As Jason tells it, the sign represents a moment of deep clarity. “That’s me. I’ll be living outdoors. A dead body in the ground or ashes scattered over the ocean.” A sign post, a marker in time, a diagnosis that does, in fact, signal the end, but for Jason suddenly represented birth, an efflorescence, an unlocking of new energy. Metaphor and language, an articulation of how an individual is divided into multiple selves that all die—a body, a son born from a mother, a husband and father, a collector, an artist—each version of himself represented here through a process of annihilation and new creation. The erasure of surfaces that represent nearly 30 years of collecting and making. “Paintings become black until a new surface is obtained,” he writes, “Many surfaces are possible like the different surfaces of the ocean. Each one must feel like a new painting; it’s not just an exercise in painting it black. Black being the color of the universe we all slip back into. Matter returning to matter. Black as a symbol of the unknown.” His black paintings represent spiritual moments, memories, an inside joke, like the painting titled “Mumpy,” the word his young son used to describe turbulence during his first flight on an airplane. Jason’s galaxy photographs represent a different version of an invented surface. Snapshots from his found photo collection are painted black and left to collect the debris of his studio environment—pencil shavings, dirt particles, saw dust. Like a telescope pointed at the sky, they are then scanned at a deep resolution and printed as fictional representations of space, each becoming its own galaxy. “They are the final grave for matter billions of years from now, the cradle of birth from where we all came billions of years ago.” Color is introduced through a series of paintings and drawings of abstracted flower forms and other richly surfaced works painted in shades of blue, his wife Heather’s favorite color. Flowers as a metaphor for the studio yard where much of the work was conceived, flowers as emergence. But they are also literal representations of Heather’s own recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, allusions to the get-well cards and flower bouquets she received in the hospital after falling ill this past December. In their visual language, the flower works recall most closely the drawings that Jason is best known for, yet they read as something entirely new. One of these flowers, a key drawing in the show, is titled “A New Plan”—a new approach to work as an artist, a new focus on living as a family facing the afterlife.

Jason Brinkerhoff lives and works in Menlo Park, California. His drawings, paintings and photographic practice have been exhibited and published in diverse contexts, including three previous gallery projects at Ampersand, Head Fake (2013), Unfinished Drawing (2014), 50 Heads (2015) and Eden (2018).


A Better Plan, 2019
Archival print
Epson Hot Press Bright 310 GSM
16 1/4 x 13 3/8 inches
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Mumpy, 2019
Acrylic on wood in artist frame
20 1/8 x 13 1/8 in.


Homeless Living Outdoors, 2018
Marker on cardboard
17 1/4 x 22 5/8 in.
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Heather, 2019
Acrylic and spray pain on paper
20 5/8 x 18 3/4 in.


Floor No. 1, 2019
Spray paint, xerox, wax pastel, charcoal, acrylic and graphite on chip board
16 1/4 x 11 1/4 in.


A New Plan, 2019
Graphite, wax pastel, colored pencil, ink, acrylic and spray paint on paper
12 1/8 x 14 3/8 in.


Infinity Hole, 2019
Acrylic and glass on canvas
25 1/4 x 18 5/8 in.


Yellow Black, 2019
Acrylic on canvas in artist frame
14 1/2 x 11 1/2 in.


The Garden of Not Caring, 2019
Acrylic, graphite, oil and spray paint on canvas in artist frame
40 3/4 x 32 5/8 in.


Jaws, 2019
Acrylic and spray paint on canvas in artist frame
18 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.


For Time and All Eternity, 2019
Oil on canvas
24 3/4 x 20 5/8 in.


Galaxy Garden, 2019
Graphite, acrylic, color pencil, wax pastel, ink, spray paint and oil on paper
15 x 12 in.



Blood Garden, 2019
Acrylic, oil, spray paint and graphite in artist frame
19 x 15 5/8 in.


Floor No. 2, 2019
Spray paint, xerox, wax pastel, charcoal, acrylic and graphite on chip board
18 1/4 x 14 1/2 in.


© 2019 Jason Brinkerhoff and Ampersand. All Rights Reserved.