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Meet Cosmas and Damian Brown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cosmas And Damian Brown.

So, before we jump into specific questions about your art, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born into a world of art and artists and I realized early on that my calling lay in the creative field. I always understood the great discipline and determination needed to be a successful artist. However, my parents’ fearlessness in pursuing their dreams and wild projects showed me that it was possible to live a comfortable and endlessly exciting life while doing what you love.

Much of my interest and influence as an artist can be traced back to my childhood in Mexico. My family moved to a house in rural Oaxaca when I was four years old. The ten years that I spent there cemented in me a deep love and appreciation for nature, and an understanding of art as more than simply a form of expression. The ritualistic use of images, colors, even smells, sounds, and tastes, as a way of understanding the cycles of life and propagating ancestral culture, had a profound impact on me. I saw art as a way of connecting to the world and navigating through it. These formative years continue to shape my life and inspire my work, and seem to fuel a search into the mysteries of the world, a deep sense of adventure, and a respect for the symbiosis of the natural world.

I have traveled extensively my whole life. I see my travels as a continuous investigation into the themes and ideas with which I work. I find the exploration and experience of different cultures, past and present, to be incredible valuable to my own artistic practice. I am not only interested in the use of different methods and materials, but also in the unique ways people have developed over time to deal with their various realities through art. From spiritual worship to material necessity, the variation of human expression in relation to the immediate environment is something that has always inspired me to experiment with different modes of thought and practice. These ways of working allow for an ever-shifting and incredibly dynamic expressive mode, which keeps me engaged and excited in whatever I am doing.

It remains difficult to financially support oneself through ones’ art alone. As a result, I have been involved in various jobs as a way of making money, to support my artistic endeavors. Currently, I am primarily employed as a Studio Assistant to various artists, and as a Scenic Painter, both of which suit me well and allow me to put my art education to use. There really are so many things that one can do with a degree in Art, despite people’s assertions to the contrary. I feel extremely lucky to be able to put my skills into work that I enjoy. This kind of work is endlessly engaging, as the demands upon me are always shifting, and I am always working with new and interesting people. I seem to constantly learn new techniques and methodologies that can be applied to my own practice as an artist.

Has it been a smooth road?
I have been supported in my choices for as long as I can remember. Nonetheless, the idea of struggle as a means to success has been embedded deep within me, as it is for so many other people. People literally kill themselves trying to live up to society’s demands. I am slowly chipping away at this idea and trying to make room for much more wholesome concepts of growth and success.

The expectations of society upon the young artist to produce work, to sell themselves on every level, and to strive for monetary wealth is something which I see as quite detrimental. The struggle to survive and thrive in the cutthroat bustle of modern-day city life is destructive, it leads to self-doubt and stress, and it does not allow for a natural rate of growth and expansion. We are all expected to market ourselves so aggressively and embed ourselves in the technological networks of social media, that much of the mystery has been sucked out of self-expression.

Some people strive in this fast-paced environment. Personally, I see life as something that unfolds organically and un-rushed, and I try to bring that same energy to my work. Although I feel challenged by the expectations of society on the artist today, it has taught me so much about my own values and beliefs. I choose to be aware and move slowly through the turmoil, and I find the fruit of my labour to be much sweeter because of it. There absolutely is a certain value and a certain methodology towards harnessing the high-pressure energy of modern human society, as long as one can remain centered and aligned with ones’ values.

At the same time, I think a successful artistic career must be based, in part, in a major city, if only for logistical reasons. Cities are where artists congregate to share ideas, to expose themselves, and, primarily, to sell their work. It has been an incredible experience to navigate city life while feeling so violently drawn back to the nature I grew up in. This experience has taught me a great deal, and I have gained skills essential to a wholesome and successful life as an artist in the modern-day. Slowly, I am learning how to balance my life according to the lessons that I have learned.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
My practice is primarily focused around the mediums of painting, sculpture, and performance. My primary interests lie in discovering and revealing ideas of myth and magic, and how these ideas manifest themselves in the modern mind. I am fascinated by symbols and their meanings, and I try to focus on specific symbolic relationships in modern life. I am also interested in ideas of animism in modern life, and how modern humans still imbue life and personality into the inanimate objects that surround them and often rule their existence.

I am also a motorcycle rider and enthusiast, and I am fascinated by the mechanics and the myth of the motorcycle. Much of my interest lies in the motorcycle as a symbol of freedom, adventure, and rebellion. I see these machines as having a life of their own, and inhabiting a mythical landscape beyond rider, mechanic, and engineer. The subcultures of DIY mechanics and their alignment with other underground movements, have always deeply attracted me. These wild forms of self-expression, and the ability to reuse what society has discarded, are important factors in my own practice.

Since I moved to LA my interests in the otherworldly have intersected with the bustle of city life. As a result, my explorations have entered into the mythical and symbolic aspects of modern life. I am interested in observing how the perceived duality of human versus nature plays out in the day today and the friction that this invented separation creates in the human psyche and in everyday life. I am fascinated by ideas of identity and belonging, which I examine through performances involving the use of masks and costumes, and themes of mystery, breaking free and confronting of the persona.

I am interested in involving the audience in these kinds of events, as a way of turning them into active participants in the artwork, rather than passive viewers. Ultimately, I envision experiences of my work which engages many senses at once, and I am more interested in creating a micro-verse of experience than singular pieces of art.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I think Los Angeles is an incredible city for artists. There is a definite boom happening at the moment, and hoards of people seem to be flocking here. This is not at all surprising, given the incredible weather, the availability of space, and the inspirational eclectic mix of people and cultures that have formed here over time.

For young artists and musicians, there is a veritable wealth of spaces willing to host shows. This is one of the things that makes Los Angeles so exciting and accessible. At the same time, established artists are moving here from all over the world, and every well-known gallery and art fair seems to want to get in on the action. This has definitely enriched the art scene but, of course, this is a double-edged sword: higher rent (and higher prices in general), fiercer competition, and a rapidly changing landscape are but a few of the effects that this has had on the city. I moved to Los Angeles with no idea of the changes that were lurking just around the corner, but despite these rapid shifts, it continues to be an enthralling and exciting place to live. It holds a strange romance for me, a kind of hidden charm that is endlessly inspiring.

In addition, it is one of the few big cities that I know of that has such an incredible wealth of nature so close at hand. From sandy beaches to snowy mountains, from forests to deserts, everything seems to be within reach. This is one of the aspects of Los Angeles that really sets it apart from other places, in my opinion. The surrounding nature makes the city bustle bearable for me and allows for such a broad spectrum of experience, that I never seem to tire of it.

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Image Credit:

Angela Parks, Georgianna Chiang, Charlie White, Julia Condon, Lena Pozdnyakova

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