Sacra Privata

Works on paper by Blair Brennan

            ‘Sacra Privata‘ was the term given by the Romans to the private religious
            rites of a household, family or tribe.
                                                            - Robin Skelton, The Practice of Witchcraft

My Sacra Privata is a body of drawings started in 1990 and continuing to present. They are small (11” x 8 ½”), quick, spontaneous, automatic and ragged but, most important, they are frequent. To date, there are several hundred of these small works on paper. They form a sort of diary of a difficult time in my life – “a memoir of disintegration” to use the words of American artist David Wojnarowicz but also a record of recovery and reconstruction after disintegration.

“What is the work about?” is a question that all art viewers (and writers of artist statements) confront. The implicit secrecy of diary–type projects brings an additional complication to this question. Both literary and visual diaries are the result of a kind of compulsion. The artist’s urge to record (in some form) is so overpowering and the desperation to “get it on paper” so conspicuous, that one may justifiably ask if the work is even intended for a viewer to decipher.  Like much autobiographical work, a visual diary can transform private experience in a manner that is relevant for the author and the viewer.

Much of Sacra Privata is motivated by secret thoughts and private experience – some trite and banal, some complex and glorious but all of it obsessively (at times desperately) recorded. The secret things are the most difficult for both the diarist/artist and the reader/viewer. Perhaps, for this reason, the investigation is more rewarding.

Blair Brennan
November, 2005