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Brian T. Kershisnik

Brian T. Kershisnik was born July 6, 1962, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Kershisnik is introspective painter of portraits and abstracts. He currently reside in Kanosh, Utah, with his wife, two children and a black dog.

In 1987, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and married Suzanne B. Christensen. Brian and Suzanne moved to Austin, Texas, in 1989, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Texas.

Brian Kershisnik's paintings are in permanent collections at Brigham Young University, including a painting in the Tanner Law Library, at the University of Ohio, Illinois State University, the Springville Museum of Art, the Museum of Church History and Art, Salt Lake County, The State of Utah, and are owned by Delta Airlines and Nordstroms.

Biography adapted from Springville Museum of Art.

Artist's website: http://www.kershisnik.com

Brian T. Kershisnik was born July 6, 1962, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Because of his father's employment as a petroleum geologist, he spent his childhood in various cities around the world including Luanda, Angola; Bangkok, Thailand; Conroe, Texas; and he graduated from high school in Islamabad, Pakistan ( although in absentia because of an emergency evacuation due to the burning of the U.S. embassy).

Kershisnik completed his first year of college at the University of Utah before serving an L.D.S. mission in Denmark. After living with his family in Bergen, Norway, for a time, he returned to the States to pursue his studies at Brigham Young University. While attending B.Y.U., he received a grant to study in London for six months. In 1987, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and married Suzanne B. Christensen. Brian and Suzanne moved to Austin, Texas, in 1989, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Texas. They currently reside in Kanosh, Utah, with their two children and a black dog.

During his youth, Brian didn't know any artists, and he was in college before the thought occurred to him to make art his career. However, when he started studying art, the seeds of his current work were almost immediately sown, perhaps because they were partially innate and were partially due to his childhood exposure to native arts. Kershisnik's love of antiquity and of native art appears both in overt devices, such as his periodic use of the frontal eye on profiles and also in less overt ways such as in his use of the human figure as a symbol that leads the viewer into the story the painting depicts or reminds us of. As well, there are certain qualities in the paint itself-muted colors, a softness of line, a glaze-which convey a sense of timelessness.

One characteristic of primitive artists Kershisnik approves of and consciously tries to emulate is the position they take of being watchers and not participators in the scenes they portray. Brian believes it would be arrogant and presumptuous to paint as if he were a participant in marvelous or grievous happenings. Therefore, his painting of the Atonement is not of an agonized Christ, instead, it's painted as if he were a viewer of the apostles sleeping under the tree. He feels some artists are too free, are voyeurs, while primitive artists make no claim of having seen the events. They keep the art obviously surreal; they make the art a reminder of a story, an invitation to go reread the story.

Kershisnik's pieces are narrative, but it is important to him to maintain that same element of surrealism in his mind, so he doesn't necessarily have to use historically accurate details. Fallen Icarus in the Park (an idea taken from a Heironymous Bosche painting), like much of his work, tells a story, a truth Kershisnik hopes will increase our awareness-that critical events, extreme situations happen, but no one pays attention or understands, just as the people in the park go about their lives in ignorance of Icarus' fall from the sky.

Kershisnik doesn't think about his ideas for paintings too much ahead of time; he believes if he did, his paintings would be less honest. He says he gets his ideas serendipitously-from painting accidents or from something he heard, even possibly heard wrong (the wrongness doesn't matter, it is where the idea takes him, how it arbitrarily gets him thinking along a certain line). One time he was working on a painting and realized the hand he had painted was the best hand he had ever painted but wasn't in the correct position, so he changed the painting to make the well-painted hand be in the right place. Another time, too much red paint became the focal point of a work instead of a mistake.

Kershisnik is introspective but also whimsical. These two characteristics are evident in his painting The Difficult Thing in which a couple are dancing in an impossible position. The painting is fanciful yet also is a metaphor for the whole man/woman relationship, suggesting the relationship can be both dangerous and also paradoxical. Using metaphors and symbols that mean several things at one time, Kershisnik's paintings have an element that prods us, as viewers, to reexamine the meaningful and deep parts of our lives, to look again, to use our accumulated knowledge to understand a little more, to at least look for more within ourselves, and to examine who we are as defined by our understanding of the human experience.

Brian Kershisnik doesn't paint from life-use models-but a viewer once commented to him that he believes Brian does paint from life, even more than those artists who use models because he paints "the real essence of life." Kershisnik refers to Jackson Pollack, who said he paints from nature because "I am nature." Although Brian thinks Pollack's statement is rather arrogant, he does agree his own art is "from life" because of how the paintings develop out of his experiences and ideas.

Paintings should be beautiful, be inviting, create a desire in the viewer to spend the time needed to learn what one should from the artwork, according to Kershisnik. However, he also believes artists shouldn't bow to the lowest common denominator of producing pretty art. In addition, Brian doesn't believe art should be weapon like, even if it is about some ugliness in life such as rape or the murder of children. All art needs some affection for the viewer, some compassion for the victims, should be humanizing, should move humanity forward. Whatever the trials in our lives, Kershisnik says, what is most important is how we continue, what we learn from our experiences. He states:

“There is great importance in becoming human, in striving to fully understand others, ourselves and God. The process is difficult and filled with awkward discoveries and happy encounters, dreadful sorrow and unmitigated joy-sometimes at the same time. I believe art should facilitate this truth rather than simply decorate it, or worse, distract us from it. It should remind us of what we have forgotten, illuminate what we know, or teach us new things. Through art we can come to feel and understand and love more completely- we become more human. The artists I admire-obscure, famous or anonymous-have contributed to my humanity through their whimsy, their devotion, their tragedy, their bliss or their quiescence. I seek to be such an artist.

As nearly as I can trace, my paintings emerge from living with people (and my dog) and from affection for the processes I use to make pictures. Although my skills of observation and craft are good, there is a fundamental element that makes a picture succeed that is outside of my control. It is a gift of grace every time it occurs and is as surprising to me as it is to any viewer taken by an image. This element eludes me every time I try to control it. I firmly believe that when a painting succeeds, I have not created it, but have rather participated in it. I paint because I love and because I love to paint. The better I become at both, the more readily accessed and identified is this grace, and the better will be my contribution. “

The artworld is acknowledging Kershisnik's ability to "participate" in paintings. He has had eight solo exhibitions in galleries that range from the Dolores Chase Fine Art Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah, to galleries in Texas, Washington, and Oregon. In addition, he has participated in group shows at the Salt Lake Art Canter, the Kimball Art Center in Park City, galleries in Texas, Utah, and New York, has exhibited and won awards at the Springville Museum of Art's Spring Salon and at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on the University of Utah campus, and Brian's work was selected for official exhibition during the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II, at Austin, Texas.

Brian Kershisnik's paintings are in permanent collections at Brigham Young University, including a painting in the Tanner Law Library, at the University of Ohio, Illinois State University, the Springville Museum of Art, the Museum of Church History and Art, Salt Lake County, The State of Utah, and are owned by Delta Airlines and Nordstroms.

He has recently published the book Painting From Life and his artwork can be viewed on the web at http://www.kershisnik.com

Biography courtesy Springville Museum of Art.

Newspaper Articles

"1993 Arts: A Blockbuster Year Of Highs And Lows, Hits, Flops, Best Sellers And Deaths." The Deseret News, December 26, 1993.

"Art Galleries Brighten Winter With Exciting Exhibitions." The Deseret News, January 3, 1993.

"Artists Represented By David Ericson." The Deseret News, December 9, 2001.

"Chase's Passion Keeps Lights on and Doors Open at her Galleries." The Salt Lake Tribune, October 9, 1994.

"Galleries." The Deseret News, October 30, 1994.

"Galleries." The Deseret News, April 26, 1992.

"Galleries." The Deseret News, June 28, 1998.

"Kanosh Artist Brian T. Kershisnik's 'A Young Welsh Poet With a Dancing Dog' Won One of the Six Juror's Awards. Award-winning Opinions Flow Freely at U. Exhibit." The Salt Lake Tribune, August 7, 1994.

"People In The Arts." The Deseret News, December 4, 1994.

"Showing At Local Galleries." The Deseret News, May 9, 2004. 

"Showing At Local Galleries." The Deseret News, March 16, 2003. 

"Showing At Local Galleries." The Deseret News, March 3, 2002.

"Showing At Local Galleries." The Deseret News, February 11, 2001.

"Showing At Local Galleries." The Deseret News, March 12, 2000.

"Spiritual And Religious Art." The Deseret News, December 15, 2002.

"Spring Salon." The Deseret News, April 26, 1998.

"The Human Form." The Deseret News, March 29, 1998.

"Utah Arts Council Grants." The Deseret News, November 20, 1994.


Books

Kershisnik, Brian T., Leslie Norris, and Mark Magleby. Kershisnik: Painting from Life. Madison, WI: Guild Pub., 2002.

Olpin, Robert S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.

Oman, Richard G. and Robert O. Davis. Images of Faith: Art of the Latter-Day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1995.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, Donna Poulton, and Janie L. Rogers. 150 Year Survey Utah Art & Artists. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2002.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Painting and Sculpture. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1997.


Periodical

"David Ericson Gallery's New Home." 15 Bytes, http://www.artistsofutah.org (accessed January 2002).

 Last Modified 5/6/14