Once described as an 'LS Lowry of the globalized era', Brett Amory didn’t try his hand at painting until his late 20s. Born in Portsmouth, Virginia (1975), he moved west to study Motion Pictures at the San Francisco Academy of Arts, and it was there that he enrolled in first in drawing classes, and then painting.

"It was a vocational establishment and my technique was poor", he explains. "I was told to take additional workshops, where I discovered a subculture of hard-working students whose industriousness spurred me on. As my technique grew stronger and my art knowledge expanded, I realized the art world cared more about emotion and concept than realism".

Brett Amory waiting - Adsum
Brett Amory Waiting #190 (2013).

Amory experienced a moment of clarity, three days into self-enforced sobriety, which prompted Waiting, a powerful and moving sequence of portraits depicting people of the city around him. "The Waiting series was initially inspired by riding San Francisco's BART train into work", he says. “Many people packed together on a train, but nobody talking to each other. Everyone waiting to be somewhere else". He began photographing train carriages and passengers, then painting their likeness from the images.

Brett Amory waiting - Adsum
Title unknown - oil on canvas (2011).

"After I quit drinking years later, I realized the interesting aspect of my commuter paintings wasn't 'people waiting to be somewhere else'. It was, 'what's happening while you wait'. Most of us aren't really in the 'now'. And when we're waiting for something or somebody, we're always thinking about shit we've got to do, what's happening at work, how it's going with the girlfriend… so I started making these paintings about not being in the present moment".

Brett Amory waiting - Adsum
Use of white space notable in earlier works.

The earlier paintings in the series used vast amounts of white negative space. "I stripped out the environment leaving only the figure and a few supporting elements, in the hope that the viewer would evoke emotion from the figure rather than analyzing the painting, and that I'd have captured a specific moment in time".

It’s definitely emotional stuff, pretty dark too, and reminds us a little of Gramparents. We’re big fans here at Adsum.