Gadfly: For our readers
who are not as familiar with your work as they should
be, please give us a quick bio of yourself.
Bryten Goss: Hmm, well
I was born In Los Angeles in 1976, which makes me, I guess,
an old man. I actually started to paint very young, but
really took it as a full-time endeavor at maybe about
14. I went to an art class for one day and was a bit horrified
with the teacher drawing on top of my drawing. I felt
guilty when my mother said, "Wow that's great son," knowing
I was only half involved. I didn't go back after that.
I basically learned how to paint from drawing from life
and doing hundreds of sloppy paintings. At 16 I realized
I needed money to buy all these paints so I decided to
put up all my rough, underpainted pictures in a friends
loft, send invitations to as many people as I could and
try to sell a painting or two. I ended up making about
six thousand dollars, and at 16 thought I was rich so
I decided to move to Paris.
I ran out of money in about
four months, but the trip was a huge influence on me.
I lived in a loft with a painter and sculptor named Vincent
Magni and basically studied as much work from the museums
as I could take in. Since then I have really taken the
same approach and had about ten more privately funded
exhibitions, only now the shows are much bigger and I
have sponsors, etc.
What led you into
Well, I almost always drew
and painted. My mother was a big influence on me. She
went to art school in Chicago as a teenager and painted.
I would sit on her lap when she was painting; she would
also always buy me paints and brushes when I was completely
broke. But I do remember something that really made me
serious about it: I think I was 14 or 15, I was at the
Norton Simon museum and saw this small rough portrait
by Cezanne, I think of his uncle. I didn't particularly
love the painting but for some reason I was completely
overwhelmed emotionally. I couldn't stop thinking about
it for days; that's when I really realized the importance
of fine art, how such a simple image could make such an
effect on someone.
have a large following with your portraiture, particularly
your nudes. Were Paul Gauguin or Stanley Spencer big influences?
If not, who was?
Yeah, I think Spencer is
a great painter. I also always loved the painting of Balthus,
Freud, Shiele, Giacometti, and Degas as well, but I feel
Carravaggio has always been a influence on me.
As the bio on
your web site points out, you seem to have predominantly
turned your attention and work to the female form in the
nude. Why did the female nude, particularly since it has
been painted often in the past, so capture your attention?
Well, I always painted
people mainly. I guess I just thought it was a good vehicle
for painting as you don't have too much to work with,
the painting itself really has to communicate, plus I
think painters tend to paint what they love, no?
In your nudes,
the women depicted, while beautifully rendered, are often
shown either looking way or looking discontent, for lack
of a better term. Analysis of portraiture can center on
whether the subject is looking away or looking at the
artist, oftentimes dealing with the subject's level of
worth. Why do you paint your subjects this way? Is it
something you see in them, or is it part of what you bring
to the portrait?
I don't think it has anything
to do with the worth. I really think analytical analysis
of fine art should be left up to the "experts," I'm just
In some of your
other paintings you have rendered scenes of destruction,
buildings burning, people running in horror. In one of
these, people are shown being tortured by skeletons, a
harrowing scene, which reminded me of some of Hieronymus
Bosch's work. What is the impetus behind these scenes
and was Bosch an influence?
Actually, "Triumph of Death"
is an old idea. It's actually just a satirical look at
the social strata, being that we do all have one thing
matter also concerns the working class and older people.
What is it about them that grabbed your attention enough
to paint them?
I always like to paint
everyday scenes. Ive been staying in Ireland
for about half the year for 6 years now, so I've done
some painting of people in the pubs from sketches.
In reading an
article written by Kevin Smith about his wife wanting
to be painted by you, I noted that your nudes are painted
from photographs you have taken, not from live sessions.
Why did you choose this approach?
Actually, I prefer to paint
from life. Ive used photography as an aid, especially
for background work so the model doesn't sit too much,
but sometimes it is just impossible to have a model sit
for tens of hours. But having a life-size model is a lot
easier than a small picture.
The world of art
often intersects with the worlds of film and music, affecting
many visual artists, including Salvador Dali and Pablo
Picasso. As I read on your web site, actor Jason Lee counts
you as a good friend and your latest exhibition was sponsored
both by Lee and InStyle magazine, and was attended
by Hollywood types like Nicolas Cage. How did you come
to be connected to Hollywood and what do you think of
Well, growing up in L.A
most of my friends turned out to be in the entertainment
industry. Jason has been a close friend for 10 years as
well as a great patron. He has an amazing collection of
painting and has been buying from me for years. I think
in this city it is mostly people in that industry that
can afford to collect art so that is how that connection
Does the music
you listen to ever have significant influence on your
painting? If so, what do you listen to and how are you
affected by it?
Yes, music is extremely
important to me, being that my work is mostly visual.
I am listening to music about every minute of my day.
I have a wide range of tastes. I remember the last time
I bought CDs I got Mozart, Mogwai, Al Green, the Misfits,
Tricky, the Smiths and I think Poncho Sanchez. I think
there's always a place for music.
obviously have accomplished a lot in your relatively short
time in the art world. Where do you see your work going?
Will you stay with painting or move into other mediums?
Actually, I just bought
an etching press and am working on a series of drypoints
and etchings for a show at the end of this year. Then
I'll exhibit the etchings in a few other countries. I
will also have an exhibition of oil paintings
next year in Los