Artist Showcase: Mike Brieger aka Henry Ohio

This latest artist showcase comes from Mike Brieger aka Henry Ohio. If you would like a post about your work, please contact

Image 1

Heading to the Barbecue

“Once, when I was seven and living in Germany, I saw a an old anatomical etching in a museum. As soon as I came home I drew the figure from memory with all the glorious blue and red veins and the carefully penned notations. Also when I was seven, I remember drawing biblical scenes in religion class. There was a kid there who held his colored pencils bunched in his left hand, ready for his right hand to choose from. This kid was a real artist you could tell; no time to waste picking pencils up and down from a tray, he seemed to be unwilling to let his connection to the drawing be broken. I went ahead and used the same approach. I didn’t want my connection broken either, there were seven lean cows and seven fat cows to draw, the dream of King Saul.

image 2

Scene With a Bear

When I was ten, my mom took me to see a Matisse exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Art. It was the two dimensional cutout shapes of his. Now, I love shapes cut out with scissors, but I hated this show so much I felt sick and asked my mom if we could leave, she was surprised because I usually liked to look at art. I realized then, that I had to protect my eyes. Art for me wasn’t just a matter of looking at everything and then choosing what was good. To look at bad art made me sick.

image 3

White Tiger

Another time, after cleaning out an apartment I dumped all my paintings to date in the apartment complex dumpster. I was only twenty one and these paintings weren’t that good. Nevertheless driving by the apartment complex a few weeks later I looked up the long driveway just past the dumpster and noticed that one of my paintings had been fished out of the dumpster and screwed to the fencing of the garbage corral. An appropriate gallery for my work at the time. The painting looked good there.

image 4

The Professor and the Nymph

What I have noticed about beginning a painting is that no matter what the idea for the painting or the plan, it all usually gets thrown out the window after the first brushstroke. Having said that, however, several reoccurring themes do appear. Early American history scenes, specifically slavery in the south, as well as current race relations. Also strange, zoomorphic scenes of many types.

image 7

Factory Scene

Some influences of mine include: The expressionist paintings of Max Beckmann, specifically the carefully painted works from 1920-21 as well as the later large triptychs, early American political cartoons, Alfred Wallis’ ‘Chateau in the Forest’, Romare Bearden’s cityscapes and interiors with the blocks of color mixed with black and white elements, El Greco’s ‘View of Toledo’, Georges Rouault’s early water colors of prostitutes, all of Bill Traylor’s paintings, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s chicken bone chairs, Gerard Richter’s squeegeed black and whites, northwest coast Indian carvings and plains, Indian ledger drawings, the hallucinatory landscapes of Chiem Soutine – and so on and on…

image 8

Born Again

The, ‘Outsider’ for me, strictly speaking, is someone who makes art but is not affected very much by the norms of the surrounding art-making culture. Loosely speaking, I would say the outsider is anyone who achieves a good measure of honesty in the work. Spiritually speaking, to be in the groove is what a musician wants. When visual artists make art in the groove I think the terms ‘Outside’ and ‘Inside’ fall away. Also, it’s important to note if the art viewer has an ‘outsider’ or ‘insider’ perspective. I remember seeing a Rosemarie Trockel show. She  is one of Germany’s post Joseph Beuys conceptual artists. One of her pieces was a clear plexi box with a couple of white men’s shirts and a few black widow spiders hanging in their webs all around the shirts. Now that moved me. However, the placard said that the tag inside the shirts had a reference to the Marquis De Sade and this was important to understanding the piece. Anyway, I’ve always had a hard time reading when I’m looking at art and wasn’t really able or interested in grasping the concept. So in this case you could say that I was looking at it from an ‘outsiders’ perspective.

image 6


Currently I’m working towards completing a small black and white painting every day. I am keeping them small so that I can complete them in a single session. I keep them black and white so I don’t have to suffer the coitus interruptus of squeezing out more paint onto the palette all the time. I can go at it with just a tub of white and a tub of black paint.

image 5

Penn and the Indians

Art has been therapeutic for me. I think when you make art there is a very special reorganizing and re-calibrating that takes place within yourself. I am grateful for this. I would like my art to take me to cities that I would like to visit such as Detroit, where I’m from, or New York, where I like to visit, or New Orleans where I have never been. Thank you for reading my thoughts about art.”

Click here to visit Mike Brieger aka Henry Ohio’s website


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