Stephen Brandes
Schmerzbau: it's not all just misery The Model, Sligo 2nd July - 25th September 2022 In this, Brandes’ largest solo exhibition for several years, he plays out how both comedy and tragedy can sit side-by-side through juxtapositions of representation and abstract form. Central to the exhibition was a complex walk-through architectural and sculptural assemblage, which, having taken months to build, was destroyed after the close of the show. The exhibition also included new monumental paintings on lino and smaller works on paper and canvas. Throughout there were cameo representations of historical and fictional characters who have entertained Brandes’ interest during the creation of this body of work: Maud Gonne and love-smitten WB Yeats; Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt alongside philosopher and Nazi Party member Martin Heidegger; Ken and Deirdre Barlow from the long-running UK soap opera Coronation Street, amongst others whose relationships with the world - and with one another – have been plagued by contradictions and misadventure. The title of the show, “Schmerzbau” is a made-up word. It joins together two German words; schmerz, meaning pain or grief and bau, meaning construction, but it is also a play on another made-up word, “Merzbau”, coined by the German artist Kurt Schwitters to give a title to his installation/collage work between 1920 and his death in 1948. In his lifetime he started several different Merzbauten – each in a different location. Each, however, was doomed to suffer tragic misfortune. This exhibition is partly an homage to Schwitters, his humour and resilience throughout the darkness of the first half of the last century. It pays tribute to the idea of creating something compelling (and often funny) out of the mess our culture leaves in its wake. The exhibition was accompanied by a 16 page broadsheet publication, designed by Oonagh Young at Design HQ with contributions from art historian Sarah Kelleher and artist Stephen Brandes
© Stephen Brandes 2022