The Story of a Forgotten East Village Artist’s Sick-Fated Quest for Fame
New documentary Make Me Well-known examines the life and work of Edward Brezinski, a up to date of Jean-Michel Basquiat who dreamed of being a star – however by no means made it
Numerous artists transfer to New York from all world wide with the same dream: to make it; to seek out fame and fortune. For Edward Brezinski (1954-2007), this was his dream too – however not his destiny. Though fortune put him in the best place on the proper time, he was the improper man. The brand new documentary Make Me Well-known tells his story.
“I’ll starve to demise earlier than I promote an enormous portray for $100. I’m not that masochistic,” Brezinski says, his voice dripping with desultory tones as he sits imperiously in a makeshift salon at Magic Gallery, which he ran out of his sixth-floor tenement stroll up on East Ninth Road in New York’s fabled East Village.
Situated reverse a males’s shelter on an in any other case barren block, Brezinski hosted exhibitions and occasions to assist set up himself as a neo-expressionist painter. However not like his up to date Jean-Michel Basquiat, Brezinski was much less of an innovator and extra of a traditionalist; his work was decidedly out of step with the instances and didn’t replicate the zeitgeist. However his painstaking devotion to his artwork was wholly actual and lies on the coronary heart of this new movie, which premieres February 17 at Bertha DocHouse in London and can display on the ICA.
That includes a blinding solid of characters together with David McDermott, Duncan Hannah, Kenny Scharf, Richard Hambleton, Marcus Leatherdale, Claudia Summers and Sur Rodney (Sur), the movie seamlessly blends good bits of banter, outrageous scandals and remembrance of issues previous, then tops it off with the query, “Did Edward Brezinski faux his demise to drive up the worth of his work?”
Director Brian Vincent weaves a glowing story of ambition and angst taken to elegant extremes as Brezinski slides from the brink into the abyss, doing so with a singular mix of panache and contempt. “Edward got here to New York within the Seventies at a time when portray was identical to occupational suicide. You weren’t going to promote something,” says Vincent.
Brezinski was one in every of a large coterie of artists, outcasts, and squatters from all walks of life who discovered a spot on the Decrease East Aspect because the neighborhood fell into precipitous decline. Deserted buildings and empty heaps littered as soon as vibrant blocks for miles round, and the few remaining tenements have been hardly as much as code. It was the proper setting for the emergence of a radical new artwork scene set within the East Village.
A brand new era of artists determined to write down their very own guidelines. At a time when everybody might afford to dwell and work in strolling distance from each other, artists like Tim Greathouse arrange storefront galleries, whereas working and sleeping within the again. Brezinski arrange the Magic Gallery in his dwelling, internet hosting soirees with provocations like Gary Indiana calling out David Wojnarowicz in poetry.
Described as charismatic, exuberant and intense, Brezinski acquired a fame for passing out paper invites to a random group present that includes his work at different folks’s exhibition openings. Though he was a hustler who couldn’t fairly learn the room, he soldiered on, convicted by his dedication to his work.
One evening Brezinski met a man named Lenny Kisko one evening at The Bar, which has been likened to the Cedar Tavern of the East Village scene. Kisko was making good cash working as a waiter at Lincoln Heart and began shopping for Brezinski’s work – occurring to changing into his main collector and preserving works like a hallucinatory portray of Nancy Reagan in her signature blood-red go well with.
Regardless of having Kisko as a patron and agent, Brezinski desired extra: a star by any means essential. Little did he realise, it wouldn’t occur till 16 years after his 2007 demise. All of it started over a decade in the past. Whereas in between appearing jobs, Vincent obtained work as a waiter. Vincent talked about his obsession with the 80s to a coworker who simply occurred to be Lenny Kisko – and the die was solid.
“I might relate to Edward’s wrestle as a result of I’m an actor and I’ve been in lots of issues over time, however I’m not well-known,” says Vincent. “The factor that stored me going was that I might see how good he was and I wished to know why he didn’t get well-known. I wished to inform his story and convey out all these different characters of the Decrease East Aspect so we might inform the story of the rise and fall parallel to his profession.”
With Make Me Well-known, Vincent offers us a layered portrait of a hungry ghost incarnated into a person who was various things to completely different folks. For legendary dominatrix and author Claudia Summers, whose Brezinski portrait appeared beside his self-portrait on the 2017 Membership 57 exhibition on the Museum of Fashionable Artwork, Brezinski was “a chicken who couldn’t fly”; Painter Duncan Hannah famous his “loopy eye”; whereas Peter McGough noticed his confidence and disappointment.
However it’s gallerist Annina Nosei who steals the present with a madcap romp replete with damaged guarantees, demise threats, payoffs, non-public events and museum exhibits. And regardless of popping out forward, Brezinski couldn’t assist himself. In an act that will seal his fame for clownery, he arrived at a gap for Robert Gober at Paula Cooper, approached a pedestal with a sculpture of a bag of doughnuts, took one and ate it. This silent act of disruption shortly escalated to a visit to the emergency room and having his abdomen pumped – solely to grow to be the factor for which Brezinski was most well-known.
Sadly, Brezinski continued to spiral and finally moved to Berlin, spending his remaining years out of sight and out of thoughts. His demise in obscurity calls to thoughts the numerous artists whose lives and works fall by means of the cracks of historical past. With Make Me Well-known, Vincent honors Brezinski’s fondest want and delivers to the general public an impressed murals.
Make Me Well-known premieres on February 17 at Bertha DocHouse in London, adopted by a Q&A with artists David McDermott and Robert Hawkins. It would even be screening on the ICA.