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Austrian Painter Herbert Brandl Presents a Large Exhibition to a German Audience for the First Time
Herbert Brandl, Untitled, 2009, 300 X.500 cm, oil on canvas. Photo: © Wolfgang Neeb. Courtesy Deichtorhallen Hamburg.

HAMBURG.- For the first time, a large exhibition of the Austrian painter Herbert Brandl’s (born 1959) work will be presented to the German audience. The exhibition at Deichtorhallen includes around 30 large-sized works from the time between 2003 and 2009. Most of the paintings have been created exclusively for this exhibition.

The large pictorial space which often 4 x 3 metres large formats let the observer plunge into visual worlds which iridesce between abstraction and figurativeness. They leave open both options of consideration. In the paintings, which at first glance appear abstract, figurative thoughts of image are filtered through, which in most cases emerge from distant remembrance of photographies.

Robert Fleck, the curator of the exhibition, describes Brandls’ works as extremely dynamic and energetic due to the fierce conflicts between light and colour as well as between the white of the canvas and the gay colours which are being used.

“As soon as the eye has adjusted to these intense planes of colour and light, it becomes equally evident that their formal language walks a thin tightrope on which abstract, spontaneously drawn lines and connections between planes sometimes appear to be the subject matter of the painting, before a thoroughly figurative approach, characterized by great simplicity, becomes evident at the very next moment, only to dissolve again into the experience of the nonobjective image. The eye intends to recognize a thing such as a grass-covered surface, algae moving under water, a mountain, partly covered in clouds, a sunrise or a sunset, yet the abstract imagery immediately again gets the upper hand.“ (Robert Fleck“

About 15 of the 30 works that will be shown in Hamburg show mountains, often the Mount Everest in various atmospheres, conditions of illumination and stages of abstraction. Aside, there are pictures of grass and forests as well as entirely abstract works. „ The drawing of mountains for the sake of painting as a metaphor for the identification with painting and it’s corporeality is not Brandl’s point. It is rather the question of intensifying the metaphor through his figurative content combined with his mainly monochromatic abstractions or – in other words – through nature and artist conflating into a conclusively mysterious whole which is occasionally translated into a surprsing and expressive pictograph with the aid of a camera or other technical intervention.

Jan Hoet writes in his catalogue-article:

“Both in its monumental width and height as well, each painting is an invitation to reflect on mountains and the essence of being a mountain that can be experienced aesthetically and physical, through painting and its significance as a mirror rather than a window.”

In this century’s painting, which is dominated by a sharp contrast of figurative and abstract approaches, Brandl represents a personal suspension of this contrast, his confident bonding of figurativeness and abstraction a significant vision of the medium’s pure actuality.

As one of the last years’ most inventive and vigorous painters, Brandl has been presented to a professional audience through a number of single and group-exhibitions. Many might remember the Pavillion at the Venice Biennale 2007, which Herbert Brandl --- under the commissionership of Robert Fleck as the Austrian representative.

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