Stephen Brandes
No Soap Radio Drawings and collages, 2015 - 2019
"No Soap Radio" was an exhibition shown at Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin, between 21st September and 30th October 2019; a selection of work made over the previous four years, ranging from large-scale digital prints on vinyl to small collages, drawings and paintings. Much of this material follows a period of travel to Paris, Athens, Crete and Gothenburg. The title of the show refers to an anti-joke, where the punch line ‘no soap, radio’, bears no relation to the build up which precedes it. In this sense Brandes presents, what he calls, a cerebral attic clearance of ideas and images, some of which form tenuous and often humorous alliances because there is no intentional connection. Much of Brandes’ past work has meditated on the legacy of European history, by viewing human endeavour within the landscape and the constructed world from oblique cultural and historical perspectives. It is fueled by an interest in how visual languages from the recent past have been adopted within particular social movements, from the avant-gardes and totalitarian aesthetics of the early 20th century to the graphic sensibilities of more recent years. These are often put into conflict with the subject matter: the landscapes, the monuments and architecture that have evolved throughout Europe over the past 400 years. Brandes’ continued engagement with this material aims to invest fresh meaning to these subjects for the purpose of misappropriation. He creates artworks that hover between authority and fallibility, presenting alternative views to commonly accepted standards of beauty; and considers our shared histories and future with a measured mixture of poignancy and humour.
© Stephen Brandes 2020