Interview with Reen Barrera for Nexus III at the Brand Library & Art Center

Reen Barrera explores the idea that regardless of what we say, our true feelings can still be emancipated by our facial expressions. The mix medium artist utilizes Acrylic, oil, and aerosol paint in his work as he interprets the silent way we communicate with symbols and patterns in his compositions. Starting with a loose abstract figure, he often lets accidental drips, smudges and splatter guide him as his stares down the empty canvas.

What was the inspiration behind the body of work that will be showing at the Brand Library & Art Center?

At the beginning of my journey as an artist, I was lucky enough to have this idea of a character that will embody my thoughts, thus giving life to this character Ohlala. Ohlala is a being whose face is painted with colors representing its current mood/situation, and covered with symbols which summarizes our life, the idea comes from the saying “its written all over your face”.

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

I bore myself doing nothing for days and then come to the realization that I’m wasting my short time here on earth, that keeps me motivated all the time.

When you were working on this body of work, what were you listening to in the background? Do you have a different soundtrack for the various stages of the creative process? 

I recently bought a vintage turntable, I got addicted to its sound, it has definitely influenced my current state. I started the process with the classics like Etta James, and finish it up with Up Dharma Down, an amazing Filipino band. I discovered the I work easily with slow jams in the background.

Is there an artist or piece of work that has made a significant impact on you? Has that work influenced your own artistic voice/style? 

Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Choe, and Cecile Perra discovering and studying them religiously has impacted me a lot as an artist. The strengths of their works and the bravery of their ideas freed me from my comforts. 

What piece challenged you most in this body of work, and why?

Technically it’s the dolls that really challenged me, the amount of sewing that I did for the dolls are challenging, considering having no background in Tailoring. And the needle pokes really hurt.

What do you think will be said about the New Contemporary Art Movement in 100 years?

I’m fortunate as an artist to be alive at this era, because I’ve experienced the birth of the internet and I have benefited a lot from it, the possibilities are endless because it opens the world for you, learning a new skill has never been so easy. With that comes the endless possibilities for artist and their processes, Inspiration can come with just a click of a button. This era has been a mixture of experimental influences from the past and comfort zones has been broken a lot of times by artists, because they are backed up with the knowledge that inspires. This era has seen a lot of “First” like the Internet and it made us pioneers of the connected world. With that, knowing art as an evolving creature that follows and breaks the rules, I’m sure the future will find this era influential the same as we are influenced by the past.

For now, the Brand Library and Arts Center are unfortunately not welcoming visitors. This Saturday, November 7 at 1 pm we will go live on our Instagram to tour the show and we will also be sharing a professionally filmed video tour of the exhibitions on our Instagram and Facebook around that same time. A self-guided virtual tour will be shared shortly as well.