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Brett Amory Debuts New Art in Bi-Coastal Exhibitions

Earlier this month, artist and Academy of Art University graduate Brett Amory unveiled two new collections in simultaneous exhibitions on the West and East Coasts. It’s Wonderful Your Demons Came Today kicked off with a reception at Jonathan Levine Gallery in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Sept. 8 and will be on display through Oct. 7. His second exhibition, This Too Shall Pass, opened at San Francisco gallery The Luggage Store on Sept. 15 and will run until Oct. 21.

Each exhibition reflects Amory’s ongoing journey away from the more realistic style of painting he honed during his time at the Academy and used in “Waiting,” his acclaimed series depicting individuals living in a detached, disjointed sense of perpetually waiting. The series was popular with both galleries and collectors. But after working on Waiting for 15 years, Amory was ready to start the next chapter of his career.

“I realized I couldn’t do it anymore,” he said. “In the beginning of 2016, I called all the galleries I work with to let them know the series was over and I was moving on to something else.”

Over the past few years, his influences were shifting to more abstract depictions of reality. It’s Wonderful Your Demons Came Today, his third body of work since Waiting, represents another step in his evolution toward modernism and contemporary painting. “I’m continuing down a path that’s leading me into unknown territory and moving toward an unnaturalistic depiction of reality spoken through more symbols and metaphors,” Amory remarked.

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“I’m Sorry It Didn’t Work Out” from Brett Amory’s It’s Wonderful Your Demons Came Today exhibition. Image courtesy of Brett Amory.

The artist was inspired to create the 10 oil paintings and various sculptures that comprise the collection earlier this year after suffering some major personal losses. To get through his pain, he intensified his long-time meditation practice and dove into books on religion, philosophy and mythology by authors such as Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh, Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung.  

“For me, these teachings only made sense through the practice of meditation,” Amory remarked. “At first, I saw what I was going through as a midlife crisis. Through meditation, I came to see it as an awakening and rebirth. The artwork in It’s Wonderful Your Demons Came Today is a direct result of what I went through and trying to deal with it the healthiest way I can.”

Although the work in the collection is autobiographical and introspective, it embodies universal themes. Each piece contemplates the human condition through Amory’s personal survey of indecision, obsession, loss, suffering, desire and fear.

His San Francisco exhibition, This Too Shall Pass, focuses on the collapse of a great empire and explores what it means to “make America great again,” the catchphrase coined by Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. While not a fan of Trump, Amory believes he is the perfect president for America today. Not because he’s a great leader, but because he’s sparking the anger and conversations needed to fuel change. 

“People are pissed off and talking about things like civil rights again,” he said. “Trump’s here to help shift consciousness, but we’ll probably have to go through even harder times before getting to a better place.”

For This Too Shall Pass, Amory constructed a large installation divided into two sections, one on the left side of the gallery, the other on the right. The section on the left represents mid-century America. Everything is black and white, including a TV playing clips of events and images depicting common attitudes in the ’40s through ’60s. Examples include the Watts riots, homophobia and a sexist commercial. In contrast, the right section is all color and sleek-white IKEA furniture with price tags still attached. A large flat screen TV broadcasts sound bites from Trump’s campaign, the Kardashians, police brutality incidents and the recent racially motivated events in Charlottesville.


His San Francisco exhibition, This Too Shall Pass, focuses on the collapse of a great empire and explores what it means to “make America great again,” the catchphrase coined by Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. While not a fan of Trump, Amory believes he is the perfect president for America today. Not because he’s a great leader, but because he’s sparking the anger and conversations needed to fuel change.
His San Francisco exhibition, This Too Shall Pass, focuses on the collapse of a great empire and explores what it means to “make America great again,” the catchphrase coined by Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. While not a fan of Trump, Amory believes he is the perfect president for America today. Not because he’s a great leader, but because he’s sparking the anger and conversations needed to fuel change.
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Two images from Brett Amory’s new San Francisco exhibition, This Too Shall Pass.

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Images courtesy of Brett Amory.

Amory said he intentionally designed both sections of the installation to look like IKEA showrooms. The furniture partially symbolizes the fantasy of the happy family living in the house with the white picket fence so many Americans chased in the ’50s. 

“The idea isn’t to show that one time was better than the other, but to show that there were problems then and there are problems now,” Amory explained. “Lots of problems that were happening then are still happening now.”

Though This Too Shall Pass and It’s Wonderful Your Demons Came to Play are very different on the surface, they convey similar messages. “Both shows are about duality—you have to get through the dark times to get to something better,” said Amory.