Rebecca Brewer

Rebecca Brewer (b. 1983, Tokyo; lives and works: Vancouver) makes use of painterly abstraction to explore the overlooked and under considered in the human and natural worlds. Working primarily in oil on wood, the artist has also produced large-scale felted tapestries and pigmented resin compositions. Using the specificities of material and the mechanisms of our perception, the artist creates an expressionistic, dynamic tension between representation and abstraction that tests our assumptions of the work’s process and its subjects. Through a dissonant palette and distinct mark making, the practice expands upon the possibilities of chance elements, semiotics, and the dream space of surrealism, thereby further inquiring about our inner states and their relation to the exterior world.

By sourcing from disparate visual histories, psychoanalytic archetypes, medieval hagiography, and artificial intelligence, Brewer’s work explores how the subconscious world is constructed and conveyed. Drawing from a loose history of techniques for subconscious exploration—including dream interpretation, tarot reading, Italian sottobosco [undergrowth] painting, and machine learning semantic webs—Brewer makes use of surreal arrangements to invoke psychedelic engagement.

Brewer often makes use of webs, nets, and scrims to reference art historical grids and the taxonomies of Western philosophy, while simultaneously revealing their translucent porousness. Two-sided tapestries made of silk and wool hang in space, offering an image and its inversion without indicating which is which. The resulting work teeters between queer catharsis and sublime horror, indulging the entanglement of all unconscious structures.

Brewer received an MFA from Bard College in 2013, and a BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2007. Brewer’s solo exhibitions include Catriona Jeffries (2023); Frye Art Museum, Seattle (2020); Oakville Galleries, Canada (with Rochelle Goldberg, 2019); Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver (2014, 2016); and Exercise, Vancouver (2012). Brewer’s work has been included in group exhibitions at Oakville Galleries, Canada (2018); Vancouver Art Gallery (2016); The Audain Gallery, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver (2016); Marcelle Alix, Paris (2014); and Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff (2013). Brewer was the winner of the 2011 RBC Canadian Painting Competition.