Hammer Projects: Jesse Bransford

Hammer Projects: Jesse Bransford

Jesse Bransford

The ideas informing Bransford’s mural for the Hammer Museum’s lobby wall stem from the artist’s recent interest in the dialectic of liberation and control underpinning modern architecture, an ambiguous duality that he sees embodied in the monumental forms and mystical overtones of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. In bringing together this and other imagery, Bransford’s wall drawing transforms the Hammer’s stairwell into a mythic passageway. This work can be seen self-reflexively (and more than a little ironically), as a provocative comment on the history of the museum as an image archive and a force of cultural legitimization.

About the Exhibition

By Claudine Isé
Filled with strange pictograms that seem to have been cut from one moment in time and pasted into another, Jesse Bransford’s paintings and drawings are a peculiarly postmodern amalgam of medieval bestiary, nineteenth-century celestial atlas, and twenty-first-century Web page. In Bransford’s art, dragons, chimeras, and other preternatural creatures cohabit with bubble-helmeted spacemen, cloaked demons and knights, zodiacal symbols, and figures from Greek mythology; flying saucers whiz past castles, pentagrams, skulls, black holes, electronic force fields, and cryptic diagrams. Drawing upon conspiracy theories, the doctrines of fringe religious groups, occult studies, and cultural phenomena such as Dungeons and Dragons, heavy metal music, 1980s-era video games, Star Trek, and Star Wars, he explores the relationship of modern myth systems to the social construction of reality.
Combining existing images with personalized icons, Bransford structures his compositions hermetically, each according to its own unique set of rules and symbols and its own system of meaning. His drawings bring together disparate images in nonlinear narrative constellations. More

Claudine Isé is assistant curator at the UCLA Hammer Museum.
1. Jesse Bransford, interview with Hudson of Feature Inc., 1998, available online at www.sevenseven.com bransford and www.featureinc.com.
2. Frank Lloyd Wright, in Neil Levine, The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), 141, 455 n. 79.

Hammer Projects are made possible by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Peter Norton Family Foundation.