Written by Michael Ashman
Commanding the paintbrush is like commanding a ship, artists are in control of the direction of their art. For solo artists, it can feel harder to do everything by themselves without the help of their friends. Painting is artist Paul Brogden’s life. But, when a car accident left him without the use of his fingers and his hands, Paul had to overcome his disability to become a master of a new art style. “Master of My Own Ship” is a new work by Paul currently on display at Thumbprint Gallery’s exhibition titled “Solus Voices.” The painting demonstrates the feeling of having to manage everything by yourself. With his simple stylized approach to painting, he paints a scene easy enough to understand, but the Viking caricature’s expression does not match his plight.
The iron-horned helmeted and grey bearded Viking in this painting is finding it harder to concentrate while at sea. Although his ship is fine and floating, he is wounded by an unknown enemy’s attack. Three feather-tipped arrows stick from his back, but they do not cause him to shed blood. He seems to be more concerned with his compass than his attackers. His droopy eyes concentrate on the arrow of the compass with an expression of sincere effort. His boat is heading the right way as the dragon head of the ship is pointing in the direction of the compass.
Paul’s little Viking character is an oddly shaped fellow like some of his other figures at the show. The odd thing about his rounded body is that it is uninterrupted by any arms or legs. In another painting next to this one, “Silent Sam,” Paul paints the same rounded face and body and almost looks like a humanized finger puppet. He is known to paint worn out or sad faces that are almost cute in their seeming hopeless state and his characters tend to end up in ironic twists of fate. This kind of twisted tale is told by the Viking’s willingness to venture onwards despite being grievously wounded. Even in this perilous journey, the Viking does not even express feeling even the slightest amount pain.
This piece and a variety of other works by Brogden are currently on display at Thumbprint Gallery which is located at 920 Kline St. New artworks by Brian Dombrowsky and Pamela Jaeger are also on display in the gallery. The “Solus Voices” show runs until March 3 and the gallery is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm to 4pm. If you do not get a chance to see the exhibition in the gallery, you will also be able to check out this piece and other Brogden works at the upcoming VIXEN fashion event on March 27 in Little Italy.