Along with the myriad formalistic considerations employed throughout his career, Brice’s array of relationships between subject and field are neither clinical, theoretical musings, nor displays of technical prowess. Like the language and syntax a poet might use, the various correlations of Subject and Field are a part of the visual idioms Brice employed. They had profound psychological and philosophical significance for Brice and are intrinsic to the broader themes at the heart of his work.
Invariably, as Brice’s son John observes, the subjects in Brice’s work are not the “topics” in his art; the true subject that pervades his oeuvre is a discussion about the complexity of relationships—often psychological or even metaphysical—presented less as narratives about some event that transpired than as an interaction between subjects and between subject and field.
Interestingly, whether with a subject or without one, Brice’s field was nearly always one of nature or of neutral, often negative space. The anomaly was in the mid-1960’s when Brice’s field could include architectural elements such as rooms with windows, but even they often looked out onto natural scenes (Please see below: Field Subdivided by Natural or Architectural Devices). With some exceptions, the subjects of his portraits, made in the 1950’s and 60’s, were nearly exclusively against a neutral field.
SUBJECT VS. FIELD
Works that employ the conventional relationship of subject against field (background).
Works that depict subjects set in a void, which might or might not have a color ground.
Works that focus on abstracted, fragmented topics of nature, devoid of subject, which are interplays of organic patterns, colors, and tones.