What do top-hatted snowmen, a skeletal wraith with pink hair and a forlorn accordion player have in common? They all appear in the sickly sweet paintings of Brandi Milne, the star of a highly-anticipated solo exhibition at downtown Los Angeles' Corey Helford Gallery.
Running from 29 October to 3 December in the Main Gallery, Everything I Ever Was represents Brandi's fifth show at CHG. Drawing on the influences that informed her childhood in the late '70s and early '80s, her work is often packed with classic cartoons, toys, candy, Disneyland iconography and other imagery that fascinates her young imagination.
Rather than being the sort of imagery you'd find on a greetings card or chocolate box, though, Brandi's acrylic paintings have a pop-surrealist twist. This unusual world is wholly unique in the way it speaks of love, loss, pain and heartbreak, all of which simmer beneath a beautiful, candy-coated surface. It's this dynamite combination which has led to Brandi's work entertaining audiences for over 20 years.
In Everything I Ever Was, which took two years to put together, Brandi depicts an array of unusual and haunting characters. These include the skeletal banshee, which Brandi says is "lost, angry, sad, confused, and running… nothing's making sense, but she's still going." Meanwhile, in another, we are presented with a blue frosted elephant Christmas tree ornament Brandi was obsessed with as a child in a new light. Rather than hanging from a tree, it appears to be cast aside amongst other nostalgic detritus.
With all Milne's works, you're sure to find little surprises at every corner of the canvas, like a musically inclined grasshopper who plays not his wings but a tiny piano as he serenades the other cast of dreamlike characters in attendance.
"A collection of surreal spun tales laced with the cold hard truth about what it feels like to be fully human – Everything I Ever Was is my wild, bright, blazing human expression," says Brandi.
"To create these works, I dove deeply into the vivid world that lives within my imagination. I let my subconscious be my guide, as the subconscious is the womb of creation. The belly of these pieces holds my joy, my sorrow, my tenderness, and my grief. They hold my fear, my loneliness, and my love and light.
"I offer these new images to my fellow humans in hopes that they can connect to the pure wonder within themselves. We are all connected by this beautiful thing we call humanity, and we need it now more than ever." Learn more and watch a studio visit with Brandi by visiting coreyhelfordgallery.com.