HOFA Gallery is delighted to announce that a very special work by renowned artist, Bran Symondson, titled ‘Deuces’, is anticipated to become one of the main highlights of this year’s ‘Context’ Art Miami. Its inaugural debut will take place between 3 – 8 December at the grandest international contemporary art event on the annual calendar.
‘Deuces’ was specially created in 2016 when 3 of Symondson’s AK-47 artworks were seized by Texas airport Customs officials and banned from entering the USA. Although they were made with fully decommissioned guns and carried the required document for artwork status, they were still refused entry. This story created international headlines and huge controversy as Texas has an ‘open carry law’, meaning citizens can carry shotguns and rifles in a non-threatening manner.
In response to this setback, Bran Symondson sourced a decommissioned AK-47 locally in Texas and with it, he created ‘Deuces’. In the artist's signature style, 'Deuces' is embellished with replicas of the $2 bill, nicknamed ‘Toms’ thanks to the portrait of Thomas Jefferson that adorns them. Symondson, who is also a British war veteran and reportage photographer, felt lucky he was able to create this special work given the permanent ban of his other gun artworks entitled 'Beat of a Wing', 'Spoils of War' and 'Virtue of the Vicious'. He employs the $2 bill as a symbol of luck alongside other elements such as salt, snake skin, lady birds, four leaf clover, dice and a horseshoe, also believed to bring good luck.
Symondson says about the history of ‘Deuces’, “I thought it was ironic that the law permits US citizens to go and buy a new, live weapon which I could, in theory, use to create one of my artworks, which then could technically be used in its intended form, yet would not allow my harmless pieces of art into the country.” He adds, “I feel the story has now come full circle, and I am so excited and honoured ‘Deuces’ will take centre stage at Context Art Miami this year.”
Using an infamous instrument of war to create art repudiating violence and advocating for peace is in a sense not surprising coming from an artist who once served with the British Special Forces in many war zones including Afghanistan. Symondson is proud of his years of service as a soldier and has found a fascinating way of transforming a tool of the soldier's trade into a creative medium for good. This artist's work commands attention as much for his chosen media as for the intriguing narratives around them. His preference for weapons that have seen live action and objects of embellishment that are deeply symbolic builds layers of narrative around each of his works, creating multiple paths for dialogue between art and viewer.
In 2012, Bran initiated and featured in a successful group exhibition titled 'AKA Peace' which showcased various reinterpretations of the AK-47. He also received the 2011 Amnesty International Media award for his photograph, 'The Lost Boys'. His most recent collaboration with renowned Hollywood Photographer, Terry O'Neill, aptly titled 'Hollywood Reloaded', is currently on display at HOFA's gallery in Mayfair. The idea of 'taking something of fear and loathing and turning it into something of beauty' is one of many reasons Bran Symondson's AK-47 artworks have a powerful message and leave a lasting impression.
‘Deuces’ by Bran Symondson will debut alongside many other of his works at HOFA Gallery (booth B9) at ‘Context’ Art Miami, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132, from 3 – 8 December, 2019.
Bran is available to meet and for interviews at Context’ Art Miami on the 3, 4 and 5 of November, 2019.
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