• Add to Collection
  • About


    Theo Brambergs - Large size paintings (over 2m)
Kaspars Teodors Brambergs
Abstract painting (large)
Order #01  2.44x3.66m (96" x 144")  oil paint/sand / topsoil/marble dust / varnish / on wood  2011
Some critics and reviews...

Mark Svede art critic, Ohio State University, USA
April 2nd, 2012

Teodors Brambergs is the one participant of this exhibition who best conveys contemporary Latvian painting's long-standing preoccupation with phenomenological presence. Or, put a slightly different way, standing for a long time in the presence of certain contemporary Latvian paintings, especially those by Brambergs, one feels oneself physically occupied by the artwork in a phenomenological dialectic of perception and reflection. Our bodies are implicated in Brambergs's works as they fill our field of vision and, zooming our sight onto their intricate and idiosyncratic facture, that field of vision is overwhelmed and merged with the paintings' own tilled plots of sand, coal dust, rust and soil, all suspended (like our gaze) in polyester resin. This exchange, which transforms the spectator into a component of the spectacular environment, has been seen-indeed, lived-in the aforementioned Aija Zarina exhibition and, most recently, Kristaps Ìelzis's installation of wall-sized paintings at the 2011 Venice Biennale that immersed viewers in a nightclub's worth of black-light and fluorescent paint (treated, however, with the reverence of the Rothko Chapel).

For all the immediacy and contemporaneity of his expansive paintings, Brambergs is evidently not averse to art historical referents. Critic Vilnis Vejs has drawn stylistic connections to Twombly, Burri, Kiefer and Tapies (Generalissimo Franco's favorite p.r. tool, by the way), and though he doesn't specify, we assume Vejs means the calligraphism, muscularity, materiality and monumentalism shared with these predecessors. He also notes a qualified concordance with native sons Ivars Heinrihsons and Ilmârs Blumbergs, an interesting pairing given Heinrihsons's sophisticated furtherance of academic easel painting and Blumbergs's aggressive wresting of it from the academy into the performance space.7 I would propose, for a work such as Order, two additional Latvian forebears: Gustavs Klucis and Karlis Johansons (better known in the West by his russified name, Karl Ioganson). On initial consideration, the comparison may seem superficial, but pursued, it enhances Brambergs's achievement in significant ways. Apropos of Klucis, whose 1919 Dynamic City series set a benchmark for constructivist painting practice, the incorporation of industrial substances in the painted surface not only added tectonic interest but performed a sort of transubstantiation of fine art into the concrete social realm, precisely by utilizing the materials of construction and heavy industry. Order evokes the compositional dynamism of Klucis but parlays it into a visceral experience via monumental scale, something Klucis was better able to effect through his photomontage murals. For his part, Johansons not only helped launch the Soviet productionist art movement but was one of the few to fully implement its radical art-in-industry agenda with his employment at Moscow's Red Roller Metal Factory. (That Brambergs has come to wider critical attention through a solo exhibition held in the cavernous spaces of Riga's defunct VEF factory is apt.) With Brambergs's Order, we find axonometric notations reminiscent of Johansons's so-called Cold Structures that introduced the concept of tensegrity to sculptural form in 1921, almost three decades before Buckminster Fuller and others were credited with its invention. Brambergs's modulations of line weight intimate the thicker struts and thinner wires that balance compression and tension in the Cold Structures, as does the implied self-sufficiency of 24 the figure, self-contained within the compositional ground.

To note this resemblance is hardly to impugn Brambergs's inventiveness. As with his elaboration of Klucis, he creates a new relational dynamic with the viewer whose experience of Johansons's revolutionary forms, small and exhibited on a pedestal, had been impoverished by the dire economic circumstances of that revolutionary time. Moreover, other Brambergs paintings extend this investigation of recombinant three-dimensional form rendered in two dimensions. Gravity, for example, appears to subject a very different structure to the operations of, yes, gravity but also anti-gravitational force. The massive solidity of the central form recalls Brutalist architecture, but its weight is countervailed by two factors: first, its suspension in the middle of the composition, effected either by anti-gravity or the tensile intervention of thin lines issuing from the top of the form, and, second, the suggestion of illogical spatial form in the first place. Despite its block-like projections, the form is organized like a Penrose triangle, unaccountable to the forces of physics because it is, alas, physically impossible. We stand before this precarious, implausible mass much like we do in the presence of a Serra sculpture.

Laima Slava art critic, Latvia
...Globally, it has become common again to offer painting per se from the view-point of the rising generation (for example, at the newest British art gallery "S**chi"); and this is a similar instance, not in the context of the figurative story, but concentrating more on the interchange of different colors and substances (other materials that serve as colors) on the plane. With certainty the large-scales attract the attention like an intense and replete entirety. A follow-up straight from sensual abstract panting tradition of the 60ties and the 70ties, but with an individual conviction and perspective...

Gravity #03  244x366cm (96" x 144")  oil paint/marble dust / polyester resin / on wood  2010
 Landscape #01 244x366cm (96" x 144")
oil paint/sand/topsoil/marble dust/canvas/polyester resin/on wood
Iceland  240x244cm (94.5" x 96")
sand/topsoil/charcoal/canvas/polyester resin/on wood
untitled #32   244x366cm (96" x 144")
oil paint/sand/topsoil/polyester resin/on wood
untitled #44  213 x 251cm (83,86'' x 98,82'')
sand/topsoil/polyester resin/canvas/on wood