on Bernhard Brungs at Mittwochsbar

'Clair de lune' at Mittwochsbar

"Vis à vis piero Sraffa", oil on canvas, 65 x 50 cm, 2009

"Ludwig Wittgenstein und Bertrand Russell", oil on canvas, 80 x 65 cm, 2009

 

Not the first time a young artist has turned to the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein for inspiration, but in this approach Bernhard Brungs uses the philosophically historical as a means threefold.  Brungs depicts artistic ambition, the male gaze as well as the logical reasoning as an end unto itself.  In his exhibition at Mittwochsbar, Brungs presented new works, which he completed while attending the Lenikus Collection residency in Vienna.  These paintings illustrate four circumstances of Wittgenstein’s life: his isolation in Norway and writing the “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; a complicated relationship with his professor turned colleague Bertrand Russell; his critical confrontation and challenge by Piero Sraffa; and his design and architectural accomplishment in the still-standing Wittgenstein Haus.

The finely crafted paintings are made on traditional chalk grounds and indirectly painted with layers of slight color shifts building to render the characters’ facial expressions, historical fashion, and architectural details.  The figures are made to represent the legendary philosopher and his colleagues, but the depiction is not an actual replica, the images are not taken from photographs instead they are developed by the artist privately.  Brungs smartly utilizes his philosophical interests to portray, like Elizabeth Peyton and Hernan Bas, the male-gaze.

As accustomed for Mittwochsbar, the exhibition was not held in a white-cube gallery, but this time in the residency’s atelier.  Accompanying Brungs was another German artist, Therese Schult with a found object sculpture composed of a large glass bottle, an ‘Anker’ company sugar package and a candle.  Next to the sculpture was a printed poem and in the main studio room Schult had one painting hanging on a grey painted wall.  Schult’s small gestural painting of a crescent moon possibly explains the show’s title, Clair de lune.

-Ezara Spangl

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