by J.M & Shay.

Hi, I’m John Brophy and I’m an American artist living in the Seattle area. I’ve been showing my work at Roq La Rue for the past few years and recently had my first featured show there last November. I’m now working on my next featured show at Roq La Rue in June ’11.

I never know what to say when people ask me where I'm from. My dad was in aerospace and my family moved a lot while I was growing up. I've spent a good chunk of my life living outside the U.S.; in Japan (twice) for nearly 12 years, Greece, and Spain, plus various places around the U.S.. As such I don't think I'm typically American.

I come from a different kind of background than many of the artists I come into contact with. I studied art history (and some conservation/ restoration) at the University of Madrid. The focus was on the language of art and very little attention was given to the technical aspects of how the paintings I admired were put together. Of course, that’s what I really wanted to know! I spent countless hours at the Prado Museum scrutinizing Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”, the Memlings and Van Der Weydens, and of course the Velasquezes and Titians trying to deduce how these things were made. There was no one around me who knew anything useful about traditional technique, so I had to figure it out for myself. You could say that I basically come from the “sheer force of will” school of art.

Ultimately, I cooled on the art history approach because at its heart it was more about translating the visual experience of art into literature – a completely different medium. I also wanted to make my own paintings and the only thing I was learning was how to be a fan of other people’s work.

CHURN: Many of your pieces carry a spiritual undertone. Care to explain?

BROPHY: To me, any kind of perceived spirituality in my work is a kitsch element. If anything it’s a kind of faux spirituality. I love the graceful poses and iconography of the 15th century Flemish painters and try to carry that over in my work, and I think people tend to interpret that kind of imagery in a spiritual way. But ultimately, I’m not trying to communicate any spiritual message. I’m only doing what the paintings require to be good, in my view.

One of the recurring "characters" that I depict is the baku (tapir). This comes from the Japanese myth of the baku being the "dream-eater". It devours