Michael Brucks

Michael Brucks is a 34-year-old artist from Chicago who, for the past year, has generated over 1,000 of his unique, origami-like sculptures. Brucks says they are a tribute to many of his favorite childhood icons. He names Darth Vader, Lo Pan, Medieval knights and even the Tin Man as some of his sources.

Tell us about your work.

This new series of work started with the idea of creating a cult but without an ideology. As if someone was lost in a forest and accidentally stumbled upon some ancient, long-forgotten world rife with all its symbols, relics and artifacts but no understanding of what it meant. I loved that idea. I wish I could discover that world. Instead I made it myself!

What is your background? How did you get involved with art?
I’m from the suburbs. I went to Catholic schools my whole life. My older brother and I used to put on mock masses when we were little ones in the middle of the night. I loved cartoons on Saturday mornings. I once made a promise to god that I would NEVER give up my Saturday morning cartoons! Alas, I grew up and discovered girls. But I always loved to draw and create narratives. It’s just in my blood. I had to do it.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/ shows you’d like to discuss?
The new work had been planned to be exhibited by a not-for-profit organization called Gen Art. We had some problems but I love the people there and I really hope we can do the show together.

Is any of your work political?
No. I’m officially apolitical. So many people shouting “Obama this” and “Obama that”. Do all these people truly believe their destiny lies in the hands of some random dude? My future belongs to me. Who cares who’s president.

What themes does your work generally revolve around?
I remember watching Dustin Hoffman on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and he was telling a story of having dinner with Sir Lawrence Olivier. They had just finished filming “Marathon Man” together. Hoffman asked him “why do we do this?” and Olivier said, “you want to know why?” and then leaned over the table and stared him dead in the eye and whispered intensely “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!”

What materials do you generally work with?
Paper, Canvas, Wood, Oil, Acrylic and Charcoal. I love wood. I love cutting it. I love the smell of it.

Did you study art in school?
Yes. I too have one of those useless Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts! I met great people in school. School is a great place to strike up friendships and socially interact. But as a witty American writer once said, “never confuse your schooling with your education.”

Have you held any jobs/ careers that you’d like to discuss?
I once heard that Bruce Willis said that he got laid more as a bartender than an actor. I was a bartender once.

Any amusing anecdotes regarding your work?
The nicest thing anyone said to me regarding my work was “you’re fucking crazy! (dramatic pause) but in a good way.”

What are you currently reading?
I found an old book publish in 1885 on “legerdemain” which is an old way of saying “sleight of hand.” But I really just got it for the old instructional illustrations. I love those! But I don’t read that often. I mostly just sit alone in my studio and stare at the wall or walk around and pretend things and talk to myself.

Favorite movies?
Braveheart, Apocalypto. I love strong archetypes and I don’t think anyone does it better these days than Mel. I don’t care what anyone says about him.

Trois Couleurs: Rouge, Bleu, Blanc. The late Krzysztof Kieslowski made this trilogy and he’s amazing at creating these compelling, intimate moments that really hit me in the gut. They don’t seem to have a clear logical explanation to them. I value the gut much more than the head. He’s dead now, but he had guts!

Music you like:
Aphex Twin, Underworld, Marilyn Manson, Eminem, Old Metallica

What are some of your interests?
Close-up magic, filmmaking, languages, mimicking accents… especially strong Russian ones like Sean Connery did in “The Hunt For Red October.”

Favorite comic strips/ comic books/ graphic novels?
I used to love when Jae Lee did Sandman. I remember always hunting for anything that Bart Sears drew. I never read the stories though. But after finding out that “A History of Violence” was a graphic novel, I changed my mind! Great story! Great movie!

Favorite visual artists?
Luigi Serafini created a series of works called the Codex Seraphinianus. What an amazing idea!

If someone were to come to your town/ city to visit, what places/ bars/ parks/ events etc should they be sure to check out?
There is a tree growing in an alley way on Leavitt street (in the city of Chicago). I used to remember the crossroad but now I forget. But you should drive up and down Leavitt until you see this tree growing in an alley. It’s magical!

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