Bryant Giles is a contemporary artist, designer and director based between Los Angeles and Tokyo.Though he was raised in Chicago, he was born in Michigan City. Giles has gained recognition as one of the most in-demand creative figures emerging from the Midwest. His artistic endeavours reflect his present emotional condition, delving into themes such as racism, flawed systems, and his perspective on today's social environment through complex visual layering.
Beyond his contributions to the art world, he is also acclaimed for his design participations, having partnered with prominent brands such as Nike, Levis and New Balance and launched collections under his own name.
It was a particularly icy 24th of November in Berlin and Bryant Giles was presenting his first solo show in the city. IM ALIVE? would stay for five weeks at Schlachter 151, the new gallery and art space founded by OOR Studio.
The exhibited pieces derive inspiration from a predominantly concealed collection of artwork that confronts themes related to mental health, the prevailing socio-economic conditions, and freedom of speech. The intention is to prompt participants to reflect on the question, "Am I truly alive, or am I merely a hollow version of myself?" The exploration of these themes spans a diverse array of media and canvases, encompassing film, painting, photography, drawings, and score works. Comprising 32 pieces in total, this collection serves as an extension of an exhibition divided into two interconnected parts—one held in Tokyo and the other in Berlin.
“I think it’s instinctual for people to take a shortcut in their mental development. Conforming to labels and walking around topics is easier than facing ourselves, who we really are. I’m drawn to moments of true human nature, moments of raw emotion, the truth behind the filter. The attention spans cripple by the year, so the importance of remembering and preserving give for such a larger purpose. I want to remember you” With IM ALIVE? Giles dives deep into questioning what it is essentially like to exist now. “I have been intensely reflecting on how desensitised people have become nowadays, because it is hard to feel present through how much we consume. This has been a cold splash on my face during the entire creation of the exhibition.”
After having toured the space on an explanatory tour of the works, I talked a little more with their creator.
Who are you or who do you think you are?
My name is Bryan Giles and I'm just human, I guess. Figuring it out like everybody else.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you started as an artist?
I've been painting and drawing since a year. I develop my interest from books and just time alone. I studied in Chicago for a bit of time. And so I straightened in my own independent studies.
What are your main sources of input when creating your artwork?
Inspiration? Just the people I meet. The base of my work is just trying to remember everything.
Do you have a previous closed idea before creating or you would say your work is more experimental?
My work is really like just memory based. So I like to take moments I've had and make more sense of them.
You also work with fashion. Do their elements complements the message in your art? (Giles worked with names such as New Balance, Nike and Levis, and launched his own clothing line Gone Homme).
I think I try to keep my fashion work in separate because I think they are different worlds.
Bryant Giles, Dead
Do you believe that art can play a role in raising awareness or influencing change in socio economic systems or you would say it's just an expression?
I mean yes. Like in places like China art can get you up.
Do you think an artist has to be a good person?
I don't think anyone has to be a good person. It's a choice.
How do you explain the current dichotomy we suffer from; in a word that apparently has a lot of tools or free channels to communicate, freedom expression is still a topic for many?
I mean, technically you could say whatever you want to say. I guess depending on the world that you live in, there's repercussions for it. But you can't really put somebody on the boss who doesn't care.
And do you think we are slaves of what we consume?
Do you see your arts as a form of activism?
No. Not activism. Just like a mirror.
Bryant Giles, Lee’s Angel
What advice would you give to emerging artists who want to address social issues through their work?
I would say to keep your privacy as much as you can. And if you're going to talk about the road around you make sure you actually putting yourself in people's shoes.
How do you balance the commercial aspects of art with your desire to convene meaningful messages?
I don’t.
What's in your fridge?
Dude, actually nothing. I just moved to Japan so I have nothing in my fridge.
And something like people would never guess about you.
I'm a nerd but I'm pretty sure people already guess that.
Do you remember your dreams?
I don't dream.
What is the human being?
A bug.