Brendan Monroe for Sixpack France

von Michael Rothleutner

This spring our friends at Sixpack France teamed up with imaginative California artist Brendan Monroe for the exquisite 60-page ‘fanzine’ titled “Limbic Place.” The following interview with the artist is courtesy of Sixpack, with whom Monroe also created a series of graphic t-shirts that highlight the introspective, organic and dreamlike nature of his work.

The book is called “Limbic Place”. What is this place? Where is it? And what happens there?

Over this last year I got really interested in the science of human consciousness. I started reading a bit about it and some people think that the Limbic System is an important part to figuring out what makes us know who we are and identifies us as ourselves. The «Limbic Place» is based off some of the key functions of this part of our brain like emotions, instinct and memory writing. It’s an imagined place within the mind. I tried to have the book feel like it was somewhere between sleep and reality. Some kind of standing on the edge of human feeling looking in. The paintings in there are not all specifically made for this Limbic Place but they all can exist as part of the same mind place.


The book is pretty much about introspection, like an inner journey. Why is it important, in your opinion, to explore our inner world?

I think it’s important to investigate ourselves. It’s very natural to sometimes ask the questions of who we are and where did we come from. Some people turn to science some to religion and to other things. Whatever ways that people ask there has to be some point in time when they think about their own lives. I like to explore that a bit with my work. In a way I feel like art gives me that ability to try and figure out my own understanding of the world and my place in it. I guess it just starts on the inside.

Do you agree with transcendental meditation: answers to our questions are to be found inside ourselves, not outside? Do you practice meditation or do you feel your art is connected to it?

I think that answers can be found all over the place. I also believe that even if no answer can be found at all, then it’s still worth a try to look for it. For me, making art can be a bit meditative. It’s something that I think happens naturally when you work on something that take a lot of concentration for long periods of time. Sometimes the world around you can just disappear, your mind can be calm and time can just continue passing by forever. I like it when that happens, but for me it’s not so often lately. I think I tend to work in spurts and get distracted easily.

Atoms, molecules, cells, neurons, oxygen, bioelectricity… What can we learn from observing this microscopic world?

Everything. Well, not everything, but certainly a lot. It can get really interesting when looking at the brain and the research that’s been done on chemicals resulting in emotional changes. Also the physicists studying the quantum details of atoms to find out more understanding of the universe. I think I’m really interested in these kind of explanations even though some of it can get confusing and way too complicated to understand. Explanations for nature are very satisfying.

Finally, we could describe the book as an attempt to depict the biology of emotions. Do you agree with this description of your work?

In general I agree. I think that’s one of the ways I approach work in the beginning but once I get going on the work I tend to feel my way through it a little more. It doesn’t always end up as the same thing I started with and there are a lot of actual depictions in science about the biology of emotion. I think I end up with my personal emotions and intuitions on the paper with a visual vocabulary that’s borrowed from biology, then twisted and transformed to be my own totally separate thing.




Michael Rothleutner

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