Opening Reception: Thursday, August 9 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Oil painter Ito Briones asks viewers to play the part of detective and uncover the truth behind A Murder in Bruges: Cast of Characters, on view at The Art League gallery, August 8—September 2, 2018. This interactive exhibit, inspired by classic murder mysteries, presents viewers with a trail of clues that lead to a suspect hidden in plain sight; the murderer’s portrait is among the twenty five characters on display.
Briones’s whodunit pays homage to the great mystery writers, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Agatha Christie, but his unique vision takes the concept one step further. By crafting both an original mystery narrative and two dozen oil portraits, Briones provides viewers with a fully immersive experience, entrusting them with the task of contemplating the art, deciphering the clues, and solving A Murder in Bruges.
Briones stages his tale in Bruges, Belgium, centered around the mysterious death of a professional figure model. The slain model, depicted by Briones on a striking life-size canvas, is inked head to tail with a kaleidoscope of elaborate tattoos, earning him the nickname, The Tattoo Man. At large are more than 20 characters – most of them with a possible motive to kill the Tattoo Man.
Slippery, dubious, and exquisitely painted, the 25 portraits are a pulpy lineup of suspects. Briones paints in a distinctly cerebral style, remarking that the most challenging aspect of being a portraitist is conveying “the back of the head,” or suggesting that the sitter has both a metaphysical and three dimensional presence.
Briones likens his exhibit to performance art. “Following the clues and making conclusions allows the viewer to participate, instead of just viewing the work.” The clues are many, from a bloody baseball bat, to a broken violin, to a torn female glove, and every detail of the portraits is premeditated. The woman in Dalya, or the Woman from Venice wears a ruby necklace; is it the color of blood—or the color of a red herring? Whether or not guests fancy themselves an amateur Nancy Drew or Sherlock Holmes, a magnifying glass isn’t needed to uncover the artistry of Ito Briones’ A Murder in Bruges: Cast of Characters.
Aside from being a portrait artist, Dr. Briones is also a physician-scientist with a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from Georgetown University. He worked at the National Institutes of Health-National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI) focusing on the epigenetics of cancer and stem cells. He is also a fiction writer with a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University, Boston, MA. In January 2015, he had a solo exhibit at the Arts Club of Washington entitled Portraits of New Americans consisting of 18 portraits of immigrants to the United States.
The Art League is located at 105 North Union St., Studio 21, Alexandria, VA. For more information visit www.theartleague.org or call 703-683-1780.