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Brian Morgan

If Brian Morgan had been an easygoing fellow, he would have followed in the family business and would be sitting today in an air-conditioned office wearing a button down shirt, drinking specialty coffee on the company dime as a successful graphic designer. Instead, Morgan chose to shake his fist at the world and set out on a path of late night drawing sessions, loud music and hanging with the underbelly of Chicago. This led him to his love affair with painting the underdogs, the unprivileged and the forgotten. Whether it’s a guy selling tamales on the street or pigeons holding court on a wire, they are all special to him.

After studying figure drawing and painting in college, but denied a Fine Arts degree for his unwillingness to join the installation craze that was sweeping the campus, he ended up winning first and second place in the BFA and MFA art show that was open to all students. He shook that fist. He knew he was on the right track and from there he continued making art, showing it in bars, restaurants, on wine bottles, on record covers, in books, in newspapers and finally today, in galleries.

Morgan’s paintings are loose and gestural figure drawings brought to life with surprising splashes of color and abstract movement. He paints on wood allowing the natural grain to become part of the art. With wide brush strokes, a palate knife and an old quill pen he splashes, scrapes, and sketches until layer by layer the piece becomes a satisfying symphony of color and ink. His drawing style is reminiscent of Alberto Giacometti meets Ralph Steadman, and his palette akin to Ivan Albright.

He lives and works in an old bungalow on Chicago’s northwest side with the woman who was crazy enough to marry him, his sweet son that is thankfully nothing like him, a grumpy cat, an odd amount of fish and an Amazon parrot.


Art comes from a place of constant almost insufferable observation. It’s born in empathy and compassion, boiled in humility, burned by cynicism, and punched in the gut with self-doubt. I don’t know why I do it, but I can’t stop. There’s still beauty and honesty and humor to be exposed in this broken world.

I’m a lover of the underdogs, the downtrodden, the dirty disease infested rats. Pigeons are my saints. Crazy old men are my heroes. When I see a man pushing his hundred-pound food cart up the street I think, how can I make people see how incredible this person is?

Art can be a statement about our humanity, a commentary on our ignorance, and an open door for your thoughts and ideas to be expanded. It is from this point of view that I paint, draw, and create. 


Illinois State University

Gallery for Brian Morgan

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