Home Fashion Adrien Brody Returns to His First Love: Painting

Adrien Brody Returns to His First Love: Painting


The aqua slapped onto the canvas first. Then white, cobalt and cotton-candy pink. Yellow blurted on with a rude noise, followed by red and black. This was on a frigid morning in a borrowed art studio in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. In a crumbly brick building along the industrial waterfront, actor Adrien Brody knelt on a drop cloth, smearing and swirling paint with a plastic card until it formed patterns, layers and streaks.

“Painting, I would say, was my first love,” he said.

Brody, 48, who won an Oscar nearly two decades ago for “The Pianist,” has recently returned to painting, having shown his work, somewhat reluctantly, he said, at Art Basel Miami Beach and at an art fair in New York. The child of artistic parents — his mother, Sylvia Plachy, is a photographer, and his father, Elliot Brody, is a painter — he grew up drawing and painting.

As a teenager, he had applied to the visual arts program at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. The arts program rejected his portfolio, but the drama department accepted him.

While still in his 20s, he acquired a reputation as an actor of ferocious commitment and unstinting preparation, modifying his body when required, doing his own stunts when legal, eating a worm if a scene required it.

Eight or nine years ago, when rewarding roles were thinner, he found himself with a brush in his hand again. After a years-long renovation of his castle in upstate New York near Syracuse, he invited a friend, painter Georges Moquay, to create an original work for a central wall. Moquay suggested that Brody paint alongside him. Brody painted a dragon. Moquay was impressed and asked why he wasn’t painting. Brody had no good answer. Since then, whenever he films on location, he carves out an artist studio in his temporary digs.

Once he started working, the chitchat stopped. He produced a 3-foot-by-4-foot canvas with a skull that he had sketched in charcoal the night before, and spread paint around its edges, blotting it with bits of brown paper and distressing it with a paintbrush.

He grabbed a bottle of water from a minifridge, uncapped it and took a gulp, before pouring a steady stream onto the canvas, jiggling it to make the paint run. He spray painted some spider web and labyrinth stencils, followed by blobs of gold, then poured water over those, too.