Horses cursed with sentience regret their hooves; monkeys gaze at the skulls of the humans they have superseded and wanly rehearse the many vices of people; the deer on the range envy the fake wooden antlers attached to cars and 44-gallon drums; a cast of grotesque and humorous figures get up to no good in cities and an uncanny countryside that is filled with meaningful silences and things that seem to have lives of their own.
The recurring characters in Brian Campbell’s art are, as the title of a 1991 woodcut suggests, living in interesting times. Since 1973 Campbell has been steadily creating an imaginary world that uses satire, fantasy and humour in order to think through some serious, possibly even profound questions. Working from a self-described ‘fringe-dweller viewpoint’, Campbell’s art offers a bleak and darkly funny vision of humanity’s future, where humans are beastly and animals practice the arts of civilisation, and the lines between nature and culture are redrawn – and sometimes falter entirely.
Born in Christchurch in 1953 and resident in Gisborne, Campbell attended Elam Art School at the University of Auckland in 1980 and 1981, and he has been exhibiting his work since 1986 in galleries in Auckland, Wellington and Gisborne. An accomplished printmaker and painter, surfer, musician and published poet Campbell is represented by Paul Nache Gallery, Gisborne.