Born in Ireland in 1965, Brian Rock grew up during the most turbulent years in Northern Irish history: the 1960s to the 1990s. Rock’s childhood was one of sectarian violence, attacks on his home, and a constant state of vigilance to stay alive. Seeking solace from a life saturated in violence, Brian moved to the United States in 1998 and served in the U.S. Army from 2000-2013, including an overseas tour. His experiences became the chaotic muse that brought art into his life. Each expression became the starting place for healing to begin.
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Brian Rock bio
The pop-culture picture of Ireland inspires visions of trooping fairies, rolling hills, and humble folk dancing. Endless seas of friends singing the night away in pubs. The truth of that time was more picturesque Rock’s reality: explosions, gunfire, death, and destruction. Compounded amidst dirt poverty, and political unrest. His childhood journey of war is engraved in his psyche. Rock’s intense memories bring to life the sight, smell, and taste of war is put into every canvas his brush touches so everyone else can feel it. His emotions control his paintings, conveying a sense of disorder and confusion mixed with frustrated remembrance and peppered with a coherency hint.
In 2011, Brian started producing a series of paintings based on the life experiences that shaped the lenses that his world is seen by. His work, a combination of paint and worldly objects, brings emotion and weight (figurative and literal) to each piece. Incorporating gun shells, actual dirt, broken glass, and other artifacts that give a pure heaviness to the memories playing out before our eyes in each piece. His intense emotional and physical involvement with his work shows the depth of healing that each painting brings. Most people talk through their past traumas, Rock paints through his. He lets his emotions and memories possess him until the rush is spent, the tension is released, and he can ride the euphoric high of completing that piece.
While Rock’s work is attributed to his Irish heritage, he now resides in the countryside of New Mexico, listening to the birds sing from his new studio where he continues to paint. His dedication to allowing the wild nature of his memories to take control of his art has helped him through healing immensely. There’s always more to let out as he still seeks to face the chaotic memories of his home in Ireland. He hopes that his paintings will give a voice to others from Belfast, to show the world the truth about what war was like then and what it is like now and what it will continue to be like in everyone’s future. His most painful memories have created powerful works that anyone who paused, even for a moment, and see the psychological scars of battle. Despite the dark moments that each piece brings to light, they also carry hope and healing. All this complexity behind the work of Rock can be seen as an honest, and vulnerable testimony of his experiences in life, a statement which is of significant influence as it leaves an open invitation for others to relate. You can see clearly, Rock’s message to the world, to open hearts and minds to the realization of what war looks like, not only when it is happening, but the endless after-effects of the atrocities of violence. That understanding seeks to stop this continuous path of destruction before the next generation suffers the same consequences that he has.
Using his art as a healing modality, Rock is vocal about the positive influence art has had in his life during his journey of overcoming trauma. Living with the desire to give back as a veteran, he is active with several charities, being of contribution to his community through empowerment and creativity.
His work has been published in Art Magazines, and he has been honored as one ArtTour International Magazine’s Top 60 Masters. He has been featured in the U.S. Museum of the Army as well as work with the Global Campaign against IEDS. Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) used his paintings on the Wooten Bassett Town video. Rock works consistently with Veterans Organizations as his life is ingrained in those experiences from his childhood and his service in the United States Military.
“Freedom is never free and should always be defended.”
– Brian Rock
Everywhere I see faces: I paint them so that I can address them on my own terms. I hate them .
I look at them, I recognize them, I accept them.
Once I accept them, then I can move on. No longer do they control me. I am in charge.
Now I see them as sorrowful figures in need of as much love, acceptance and forgiveness as I can give them.
Just like us and everything that we store in our souls and in our hearts.
I now love everything about them because they made me who I am today and more importantly who I want to be tomorrow.
I am now at peace.
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