A look through Christopher D. Brand‘s artwork is a slightly hallucinogenic trip to a land where buxom women munch on chihuahuas as waterfalls silently crash onto the rocks below. Christopher is an artist in all sense of the word. He attacks a vast array of themes and concepts, yet there is a certain factor- maybe that of pure absurdity- that ties all his work together. The Japanese influence, mythological and stylistic, reigns supreme in a lot of his pieces, coming across more subtly in others. Able to juggle a variety of mediums, styles, and projects, Brand comes across as an extremely versatile and creative individual.
Christopher’s paintings and drawings remind me of everything from psychedelic rock posters to Hokusai’s famous “Great Wave off Kanagawa”. If he so chooses, he can give his subject a distorted and cartoonish air, or keep it real with a photorealistic feel. Scenes of nature and traditional Japanese monsters known as Yōkai are prominent in his work. One characteristic of many Yōkai creatures is that they possess shape-shifting abilities, often using them for trickery. I think there is a subtle element of this in some of Brand’s work, in the way human faces are manipulated to have a somewhat monstrous quality, the way certain parts of a painting are not noticeable at first glance, or even the innocence he bestows upon the kappa, a notoriously deceitful creature.
Another detail about Christopher and his work that really stood out to me was that he seems to be able to make anything his canvas. His murals, though on a much larger surface than his paintings, aren’t any less stunning. He transforms two-dimensional ideas into three-dimensional sculptures, creating physical, tangible, and textured reflections of some of his drawings. He has taken more unorthodox approaches as well, such painting on actual insect specimens. However, my personal favorite canvas of his is skin. Christopher is an accomplished tattoo artist, and I can honestly say his “Black and Grey” series took my breath away. Some of the tattoos featured were like nostalgic photographs, while others were snapshots of someone’s very beautiful, very chaotic imagination. His larger tattoos are also impressive, with an abundance of contrasting colors and creatures- the Japanese influence is heavy here too, with subjects such as geisha, samurai, and cranes, among others. His line work seems to weave and curve with the body, enveloping the client like a second skin. And most importantly, it is clear that every tattoo of his holds a story.
Aside from his solo work, Christopher is part of a project called UGLARworks, which started off as a means to capture the peculiar beauty of the L.A. river, and evolved into a platform for a group of like- minded artists to showcase and create Los Angeles street art. Their collaborative murals are absolutely striking and fit right in with the grimy yet glorious land of shattered dreams, endless freeways, and taco trucks. Their billboard mural of a fly and an elephant butting heads says it all- creative culture will not back down. To view more of Christopher’s solo work, visit cbrandworks.com. To learn more about UGLARworks, see their artwork, and check out their book, the “Ulysses Guide to the Los Angeles River”, go to uglarworks.com.