Aurora is the name of the solar wind that creates colors in the night sky with space dust. Funhouse is a reference to living in a body which to me is a theatrical dwelling. They say your body is a temple, if that’s true then it’s also a theatre. I started carving these wood sculptures while I was quarantined at a friend’s house surrounded by trees. I’ve always loved how trees make these beautiful drawings against the sky. These trees were falling anyway so I harvested the fallen wood and carved it into figures and objects. I was struck by the obvious fact that sculpting is drawing in three dimensions. In a way, illusionist space is sidestepped because you literally make an object appear in three dimensions but that’s still an illusion, a play on your knowledge of what’s what. I like using this switching, enhancing and disrupting of meanings with matter. I bet the cave painters had the same sense of wonder when they painted on a wall.

The headless figures are related to North Indian Tantric paintings called Chinnemasta. The image has a lot of esoteric connotations but I liked the idea of surrender to the elements by removing the rational mind. It’s also funny because people are always talking about self-discovery but you can’t see your own face directly. In fact, according to the great mystics, if you look inward deeply enough, you’ll see that you don’t even exist, you’re just a bundle of impressions with no center. That’s also funny to me! I’ve done things like carving a landscape which was like taking something and turning it back into a different form of itself. So, for me, making art is a funhouse conjuring we do inside the cosmic magic trick of being alive.

Louis Brawley (B. 1958) has a BFA in Philosophy from Temple University and an MFA from Hunter College. He worked and showed in New York in the ’90s before meeting Indian philosopher UG Krishnamurti in 2002. Louis began traveling with UG and became his caretaker for the last five years of his life. He wrote a book called “Goner” about the experience published in 2012 by Penguin India. After a decade of world travel, in 2015, the artist settled back in Brooklyn to continue a studio practice mostly of work on paper that he developed during his years abroad. During the pandemic, he moved to a friend’s farm in New Jersey, where he began creating the painted wood sculptures featured in the current show at Sala Projects.

On view, from June 16 through July 23, 2021, Aurora Funhouse will be presented by Sala Projects. The exhibition is at 526 West 26th Street, Room 708, New York, NY.