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HIGH ART: Belbruno brings cosmos to canvas
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – When artist Edward Belbruno looks at trees, he sees them as red. Rocks are phosphorescent green.
“That’s how I see the world,” he said.
And that is how he paints the world. Belbruno is known for abstract images of the cosmos. He translates his contemporary abstract style to whatever he paints, including the Tetons, which inspired new work when he recently visited Jackson as part of the TEDx Disrupt event.
“You’d never even know they are the Tetons,” he said of the pieces, which will be for sale at Intencions Gallery in December. While in Jackson for the TEDx event he showed some of his work as slides in the gallery. He is now returning for a full show beginning December 5 that will feature 15 pieces. His work will hang through December.
What makes Belbruno’s work unique and intriguing, in addition to his personal style, is that Belbruno is a scientist as well as a painter. It was his painting that helped him discover a new route to the moon.
Belbruno says he was born painting. While that might be a slight exaggeration, he began painting at seven years old and completed his first serious oil painting when he was only 10. It was a landscape of Titan with Saturn in the sky.
People still ask him when they see the painting if he intends to show it, shocked to learn he painted it as a child.
Belbruno doesn’t know what drew him to painting. It was instinctual, he said. He knew to buy paints, brushes and canvas. By the time Belbruno finished high school art dealers were courting him. He felt overwhelmed and instead went on to earn a doctorate in mathematics. He continued to develop his art while studying. His mathematics speciality was in celestial mechanics — the way things move in space.
Art and math open up different sides of his brain, he said. He can paint for hours, going into an almost hypnotic state. When doing math he is aware of his actions while awaiting that “aha moment.”
His study of mathematics has great influence on his work. His abstract expressionist pieces are inspired by the cosmos, he said. His ideas come out of nowhere. He will suddenly have a compulsion to paint.
His painting also influences his scientific work. He allowed that the intuition he finds when painting guides him in his scientific endeavour. The spirit of intuition-based problem solving was the subject of his TEDx Jackson Hole talk.
In the 1980s, Belbruno moved to Los Angeles after taking a job with NASA. While there, his art evolved as he varied his subject matter, incorporating things like trees, stars and birds, while keeping the cosmic feel. He began to use bright, exploding colors, he said. It was then that his art career began to take off.
He has since shown internationally, authored two books and is the subject of the new documentary, Painting the Way to the Moon.
Edward Belbruno’s show at Intencions Gallery begins December 5 with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. and runs through the end of the month.