Brian Wilson, "Portrait"; Los Angeles, 1992
By the early 1990s, beloved pop star Brian Wilson had been through a lot. Substance abuse, mental illness, issues that simply weren't talked about much at that time, least of all in regard to cultural "heroes." In 1990, a purported memoir called Wouldn't It Be Nice: My Own Story appeared. Controversial and possibly authored by someone else, nonetheless, the public was fascinated. I was fascinated, too, with this man's face. The face of a survivor. Pop stardom can mean different things to different people. It can elevate. It can also destroy. Dangerous territory. I could see all of this writ large on the face of this amazing artist, and that's what I wanted to show. I decided on lighting that would enhance the effects of time and trouble, rather than erase them with some kind of "cosmetic" effect. I shot Wilson with the 8x10 camera against a black backdrop wearing a black sweater with the collar pulled up to isolate the face, giving him what I hoped was a sculptural and epic moment. Unforgiving? Poetic? There is beauty in decay.