Adrien Brody has appeared in more than 30 films after winning the Oscar in 2002 for The Pianist, so you’ll have to excuse him for not wanting to talk about acting. These days, Brody is more focused on his artwork. The 42-year-old Queens, New York, native heads to Art Basel this year to debut his painting series titled Hotdogs, Hamburgers and Handguns at Lulu Laboritorium, owned by Brody’s mentor, artist Domingo Zapata. We spoke to Brody before the show:
Can you explain the series?
It’s an exploration of how, in our culture, we gravitate toward instant gratification. That guns are as commonplace as fast food. There’s a parallel between the way we reach for a hamburger to solve our hunger pangs and reach for a handgun to solve greater issues. I also want to delve into the conflicting messages that we receive as a young age, especially as boys, to play with guns.
When did you first decide to undertake this project?
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Overall, it started in a much lighter capacity. I was painting last year with my good friend Domingo in Mallorca, and he has this long series related to Spanish culture on matadors that is really beautiful, poetic imagery. When I thought about American culture, the first thing that popped into my head was a hamburger! That was funny to me and very much a part of my upbringing. The meditation began.
How do you enjoy painting as opposed to acting?
I love it. The beauty of painting is you have such creative autonomy and your ideas can evolve at your own pace. I love the purity of the connection between brush and canvas. It’s fulfilling and gratifying in the way that acting, for instance, is not. Better put, I should say painting affords me more freedom than acting. It’s not something I have to focus on like a job — it’s my release.
What do you want attendees to know about the exhibit?
I don’t need to reference all the horrific, current stuff happening, but there’s a plethora of violence in music, cartoons, cinema, video games. We’re also bombarded with the ever-presence of fast-food marketing. Even though most of us are pretty aware of the benefits of a healthy, well balanced diet, when we’re running around busy, sometimes we’ll grab the cheeseburger and fries. I’m conscious of all that, and guilty of all that. That conflict is a big part of this. I just hope people can respond and see both the humor and tragedy that I’m expressing.
In your vast résumé you really haven’t played too many gun-toting baddies. Was that a conscious decision?
I’m a huge pacifist, but I don’t feel this exhibit is a reflection on the parts I’ve taken. Roles that resonate with me are ones that take the character on a journey. If he’s flawed, sometimes that’s more enticing.
Info: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, and Handguns opens to the public Thursday at Lulu Laboratorium, 173 NW 23rd St, Miami; www.lululaboratorium.com; 305-438-0071. Brody will attend a private reception 10-11 p.m. Wednesday