“Just before the pandemic, I moved to South Orange, NJ. I loved the architecture and history, especially the post office and its’ WPA-commissioned mural [The Works Progress Administration was created by President Roosevelt in 1935, during one of the bleakest years of the Great Depression]. The mural’s painter was Bernard Perlin. Perlin’s tableaux was an idealized, symbolic slice of life of the local community. I was inspired by the mural’s formal qualities, as well as the paradoxical tension and placidity of the men depicted. I wanted to do my own take on figure and landscape painting, and used Perlin’s mural as a scaffold of an idea to build my own world.
“Being queer is intrinsic to my relationship to the world, how I interact with other people, and the work I make. My figures are an amalgam of middle-aged queer men with whom I’m most familiar/familial: myself, my brother, and my partner. The men in my paintings are nude. Their nudity returns them to an animalistic state. They are not predators — I think of them as like deer moving through the woods or goldfish in an aquarium. They don’t think about how silly and vulnerable they might be, and they remain this way as long as they keep to their enclosures.” —Bryan Rogers, New Jersey, 2022