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Briske, Kirby

oil painting
  See my work
Chicago Arts District Alumni

Kirby Briske was born and raised in northern Michigan amid fields, forests, and rivers on the shores of Lake Michigan. It was there that a foundation of inspiration through nature was laid.

At the University of Michigan School of Art, Kirby began to develop the ideas that have become the dominant and enduring subject of his art, the expression of human spirituality. Having studied painting, printmaking, and sculpture, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1983.

Kirby has lived and worked in his studio in the Pilsen East artistss community since 1985. In the course of his career, he has participated in over 100 exhibitions including 27 solo shows. Kirby continues to exhibit and market his works with an emphasis on studio exhibitions in Chicago and a goal of expanding into national and international venues.


The subject of Spirituality has been my dominant theme for more than fifteen years. As a youth, my faith was abandoned to cynicism and an analytical mind. I deemed myself not an atheist but an agnostic because, I thought, I could not know God. Then in my early twenties I discovered a spiritual awareness developing in my art work. As the work progressed so did my own sense of Spirituality, my connection to God.

The connection has roots in nature and the cosmos, Eastern religions and philosophies, quantum theory, and my own passions and personality. In my paintings, landscape references; trees and flowers, the sun and moon all serve to create a connection to Spirit through nature, to embody the cosmos and God. The bird connotes Spirit and ascension. The tree, the spiral, the circle are all cosmic structures in many mythologies. A sense of light and radiating linear structures represent Spirit and enlightenment. The eye, the human hand, and the human figure alternately and simultaneously represent God and Humanity and their connection.

The abstract nature of early paintings allowed a certain dispassionate expression, but as they progressed, gave way to increasingly fervent works. The introduction of the human figure leads to more personal and impassioned expression. The first series of figurative paintings, Energy, is often more dark and almost overwhelming in its intensity. In the Earth and Spirit series, oils on canvas are combined with sculptural media in juxtapositions of multiple panels. The sculptural media; carved wood, stone, or casts are Earth elements and serve most often as echoes of painted imagery. These works are characterized by a more centered and calm sense of Spirituality. The Unity paintings bring together many of the images, elements and structures of both earlier paintings and works on paper. The dominant elements, light and a segmented, radiating, linear structure become the field in which the figure and nature are unified in Spirit.

Through these and many other series of works I have sought to develop a repertoire of archetypal images and to invent a variety of structures to create paintings, prints and drawings that are visual expressions of human and personal Spirituality. This endeavor parallels humanityys ageless effort to comprehend and express the nature of Spirituality and God.

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