Personal Brands, Introduction, 2023 – 24

Cover Image Credits: Saul Appelbaum photo collage, Jon Pylypchuk / Rudy Bust Polaroid, Natalia Pereira paintings on paper & Polaroid, Elijah Pierce wood carving, Stuart Appelbaum photograph, Bureau Spectacular Archi-Voltron drawing, Bil Brown website screenshot, and Nikolas Lund text

Los Angeles, CA — Saul Applebaum is pleased to announce the opening of PersonalBrands ❉, a painting studio for the exploration of transmedial and parasocial abstraction, figuration, and representation. PersonalBrands is embedded in The Pioneers multimedia agency, which has rapidly emerged as one of the white-hot creative production companies in the country. In January 2023, PersonalBrands will also launch as an independent artist-run exhibition space, initially transforming its online presence into a work-in-progress showroom to host a series of exhibitions and artist’s workshops, publishing in collaboration with Curator, and culminating in a retrospective group exhibition in the film-entertainment agency TCA.

“Two years ago I had the opportunity to rapidly expand The Pioneers into a more conventional commercial creative agency, which would’ve been quite lucrative. Instead, I looked for a slower and more thoughtful internal expansion and found where I see the most potential for personal, artistic, and financial growth. I explored ways of integrating my digital and analog art archive and collection with the collaborative media and production environments of The Pioneers.

I came up with the idea of ‘documentary art’, a studio moniker for a nebulous network concept. We may frame other artists’ solo works and persona alongside art and media that fulfills multi-channel marketing, publicity, advertising, and archival usage, but also comes together as work of art or collage in its own right via re-mixes and mashups. This is what I’m so excited to explore with the stellar artists, writers, intellectuals, creative managers, clients, and collaborators within The Pioneers platform and beyond.” - Saul Appelbaum

The Pioneers and PersonalBrands will create personal documentaries about: Natalia Pereira of AD105; Jon Pylypchuk and his alter ego Rudy Bust; Elijah Pierce and documentarian Stuart Appelbaum; Jiminez Lai of Bureau Spectacular; and Bil Brown of Black and Grey magazine in the exhibition series. As a producer, The Pioneers remixes the various surprising products of its collaboration with editorial and campaign gloss, and come out the other side with paintings, drawings, collages, and documentary displays that edify and mystify.


Natalia Pereira
The Brazilian-born chef and multimedia artist presents works exploring the life of paper. Where most of us think in terms of smooth blank sheets, Natalia reveals the vast spatial and tactile character of the medium. Hand-made paper pulps and plasters take form not only as lush drawings and paintings, but as sculptures, figurines, totemic objects et al.

Jon Pylypchuk as Rudy Bust
Jon Pylypchuk appears as his dauntless alter ego Rudy Bust. Under the guise of Rudy, he plunges into issues too taboo or remote for conventional art world pieties. He brings matchless satire to everything from self-help, personal ego, mental well-being, creativity, hedonism, and one’s general fear of death.

Elijah Pierce & Stuart Appelbaum
Stuart Appelbaum’s stirring photo documentary of fellow Ohioan Elijah Pierce reveals a world of American art and folklore. This monument to the great ‘Sculptor, Preacher and Barber’ tells the story of a man who dedicated his long life to visionary engagements in art and community building, who divined the deepest heart of his Midwestern homeland.

Bureau Spectacular
Jiminez Lai has identified two key influences on his current architecture practice to be 18th-century French Philosopher Marc-Antoine Laugier and Voltron. His work grants equal weight to the design of skyscrapers and cat towers. Generally he takes the modernist project very seriously and brings a rigorous eye and pragmatism to architecture. At the same time, he rides under a banner of uncompromising wit and irony, allowing him to sail around the dogmatic absurdities of his predecessors.

Bil Brown
The term ‘lens-based art’ slipped into art speak at some point in the last decade, and its upward trending has been met in online forums with exasperated rebuke from critics complaining about all the fancy talk and wondering why we can’t just go back to calling it ‘photography’. Bil Brown is precisely the reason why. His work embraces the ultra-high precision and resolve afforded by digital image making, but operates with a holistic technicalism more akin to a laboratory scientist. His beguiling results reveal creative possibilities at every level of the photographic process, continuing a tradition and poetics delved by predecessors like Christian Schad, Barbara Morgan, Man Ray, et al.


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