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Laura Bruce

 
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Nahm Platz auf der Hand (Sat on the Hand), 2014
Series of 15 works
Color pencil on laser print
each 42 x 29 cm
original lithographs by Edmund Brüning found in Wilhelm Hauff's "Hauffs Werk," 1902


More images: www.artnews.org/laurabruce

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29
   
Backyard Spectacular

In complex and varied work, largely accomplished over the past 17 years while she has lived as an American in Berlin, Laura Bruce has explored and excelled at paintings, sculptures, videos and, in a couple of instances, performances. Now Bruce has pared her complex art down to a seemingly rudimentary basis: large black and white graphite drawings on paper. Think of this as a normal career trajectory in reverse; instead of moving from drawings to paintings then videos, she has done the exact opposite, and to remarkable effect. Bruce’s drawings of quintessentially American houses and yards, and of people outside those houses, are visually enthralling, with all their intricate mark-making, nuances of color (in a palette that is black and white), and juxtapositions of plenitude and emptiness. Throughout, fractious activity abuts moments of beatific serenity, while scruffy and unruly zones merge with those which are delicate and ethereal. Bruce’s talents as a quirky image-maker are pronounced, but what’s even more compelling is the profound (and conflicted) humanity these drawings exude.

In “Thicket,” an absorbing nature scene depicts trees, a clearing, and a lovely cloud-filled sky. It takes time to discover an almost ghostly old man partially hidden in some brush: an entrancing figure whose expression is resigned, tender, fearful, vulnerable, and contemplative at the same time. In “Oil Lawn” a man mows a lawn in front of his house and car. On one level this scene is completely banal: an average, slightly overweight, obviously chipper homeowner in Bermuda shorts tending his typical property (which no doubt looks similar to all the other property in the neighborhood) on a summer afternoon. The lawn, however, rendered from thousands of short, slightly askew horizontal marks, is at once intact and unstable and seems ready to start buckling and fissuring, while the house tilts slightly and seems rickety; it is a cherished, yet precarious, refuge. The foliage, towering trees, and expansive sky near the house are powerful and dynamic; in several instances the light gray outlines of trees merge with billowing white masses suggestive of both gorgeous clouds and ominous smoke. There is frank magic in these trees and this sky: an unexpectedly wild and spectacular backyard environment that posits heightened consciousness, possible ecstasies, palpable catharsis. There is also crisis, because this suburban nature unnervingly resembles a conflagration, for instance a forest fire or a war zone, merging the suburban idyll with a political and social precariousness of community or existence. It is certainly the case that Bruce’s drawing seems beset by anxieties and an unsteady reality. This portrait of one homeowner performing a chore doubles as a riveting portrayal of an insecure sense of home, of making do in a time of conflict and raw doubt. A similar thing happens with “Pietà,” in which a man has shot a deer directly behind his house. The sacrificed deer, seen front and center, is haunting, and rather than satisfaction the hunter’s posture and expression communicate consternation, bewilderment, and uncertainty. Bruce’s drawing of a hunter with his kill deftly evokes a nation that has energetically blundered into violence, and is now convulsed by the consequences.

Nature, of course, in Bruce’s native suburban New Jersey or exurban Atlanta, in innumerable other places in America and indeed Europe as well is decidedly tamed, manipulated, and circumscribed. Manicured lawns, a few leafy trees, a patch of woods separating one house from the next in a housing development—these are all examples of nature usurped by suburban and exurban sprawl, and transformed into so much cultural décor. In Laura Bruce’s drawn suburban “snapshots” this circumscribed nature suddenly becomes exceptionally powerful and majestic, but also threatening and unnerving. In “The Wait,” a man and his dog, outdoors beside the family car, gaze at both white and black trees which once again resemble fire and smoke, but which also seem to be intensely, perhaps magically, illuminated and imbued with soul-shaking powers. This is one of many instances when Bruce’s 21st century drawings reveal a 19th century aptitude for vastness and wonderment. There are visual echoes of European Romanticism in Bruce’s vigorous trees and bedazzling skies, for instance John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, and Caspar David Friedrich. All are known for enraptured, psychologically charged landscapes (spanning fear and awe), while Constable’s many paintings of Dedham Vale and Friedrich’s many paintings of Dresden and its surroundings locate this rapture and power not in some fabulous and remote elsewhere but in close to home vistas (an approach which Bruce very much shares). Bruce’s drawings, while painstakingly made, also conjure instantaneous experiences, fleeting moments of revelation and surprise when one’s whole orientation is suddenly altered, challenged, and intensified.

In “North,” a man routinely walks his dog down the street, but the familiar environs have morphed unpredictably. Small trees and their cast shadows (and the small trees appear to be spinning like cyclones), huge leaning trees overhead, houses that are perhaps smoldering, a tumultuous sky overhead, and in the middle of it all what could easily be the funnel of a tornado make the whole scene at once awe-inspiring and dangerous. You also surmise that there is a total traffic between this man’s inner life and the external environment, an almost ego-less exchange between self and world. Such an exchange also happens in “Black Field Communion.” A man who has walked a bit uphill from his house and car is walloped by the environs, when some kind of weird energy vector sears into his brain. He’s an average citizen abducted not by aliens but by the normal nature in his suddenly spectacular backyard, and the experience is both transformative and terrifying. In his influential 1757 treatise A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Edmund Burke identifies sublime experiences in nature with astonishment, fear, danger, reverence, and a sense of the infinite.
Call Laura Bruce’s mesmerizing drawings her suburban sublime, with their abundant beauty, trepidation shading into terror, and convincing air of the marvelous.

Gregory Volk
   

Laura Bruce

1959 born in East Orange, New Jersey, United States

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Education

1995-97 MFA sculpture: The Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK; 1980-83 BFA painting: State University of New York at New Paltz, New York; 1980 Foundation Courses: Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York; 1995-99 lived and worked in London

Grants

2012 Losito Kunstpreis; 2010 Projektstipendium/project grant Senatskanzlei - Kulturelle Angelegenheiten/Senate for Cultural Activities, Berlin; 2009 Residency, Schloss Balmoral, Germany 2008 Workshop-Stipendium, Künstlerhäuser Worpswede; Käthe Dorsch Project Grant 2004 catalog grant, Kunstfonds, Germany; residency, Schloss Wiepersdorf, Germany; 2003 Käthe Dorsch Foundation Grant, Berlin; residency, Art Omi, New York, USA; catalog grant Berlin Senate for Cultural Activities; 2002 work grant for Film und Video, Berlin; 2001 residency, “Die Höge”, Högenhausen; 2000 work grant Stiftung Kulturfonds, Berlin

Solo Exhibitions

2011, Steady, Vattenfall Foundation, Berlin; Whippersnapper, Fahnemann Projects, Berlin, 2008, The Hunt, fruehsorge contemporary drawings, Berin; 2007 Night Twist, Delikatessenhaus, Leipzig; 2006 Landowners, Galerie Pankow, Berlin; 2005 Big Sky, Galerie Ulrike Buschlinger, Wiesbaden 2004 The Wide, Büro für Kunst, Dresden, Germany (catalog), 1-100 in Four Rooms, The Tankhalle, Schloss Wiepersdorf, Wiepersdorf 2003 Domestic Blur, Floating IP, Manchester, UK; 2002 Grasslands, Eyewash, Brooklyn, NY; Jane’s Dilemma, Büro für Kunst, Dresden (brochure); 2001 The Rainy Season, Sparwasser, Berlin; 2000 Maryanne by the Water, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin

Group Exhibitions

2014 „Vanity Case“, Galerie Amel Bourbouina, Berlin; „Painting Was a Lady“, WK, NYC; „A Line is a Line is a Line“ , Galerie Pankow, Berlin; „SOLO II“, Ozean, Berlin; „Paperworlds“ Me Collectors Room, Berlin; „Latent“ Kreuzberg Pavillion, Berlin, „Criss-Cross“, Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin; „Brennpunkt“, Galerie Forum Amalienpark, Berlin"Gossip," Trafo Center of Contemporary Art, Stettin; "paperworlds," me collectors room Berlin;
2013 „On Paper,“ Eigen & Art LAB, Berlin; „Die Kunst der Zeichnung“, Kunstverein Ingelheim; „BERLINER SALON / PART II,” Kunsthaus Meiningen; „Darkness, Baby;“ Schaufenster, Berlin; „The Pleasure House is about to Burn Down,“ Galerie Jaap Sleper, Utrecht, Holland; „Ganz im Vorübergehen“ Galerie Harthan, Stuttgart; “Hinter den Dingen”, Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt
2012 Biennial of Drawing, Kunstverein Eislingen; Kühllabor, Krakau Ebene, Austria; "I Wish This Was a Song" Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, 2011 On Paper, Galerie Fahnemann, Berlin; Synecdoche, Galerie Amel Bourounia, Berlin; Discover and Escape, Orth, Offenbach; Outdoor Excursions, Burlington Contemporary Arts, Vermont; 2010 Fokus Lodz Biennale, Lodz, Poland; "Drawings II," Fahnemann Projects, Berlin; "Reading Room #4 – FUKT MAGAZINE ," Nomas Foundation, Rome; “Awake Forever in a Sweet Unrest,” Cream Contemporary, Berlin; “City Beats,” curated by Berit Fischer, BankArt, Yokahama, Japan; “km 500 2,” Kunsthalle Mainz (cat.); “Blend,” Arp Museum, Rehmagen; “Pollyfizzyboisterous Seas,” Galerie Hartwich, Sellin auf Rügen; Fokus Lodz Biennale 2010, Lodz, Poland
2009 “The Carnival Within,” curated by Gregory Volk and Sabine Russ, Uferhallen, Berlin; “City Beats,” curated by Berit Fischer, Dorsky Gallery, NY 2008 “City Beats,” curated by Berit Fischer, Zendai MoMA, Shanghai; Linie08, DINA4 Galerie, Muenchen; Menschen und Orte, Kunstverein Konstanz, Konstanz
2007 “American Beauty”, Galerie Baer, Dresden
2006 “Even the Drawers are Winners”, Klara Wallner Galerie, Berlin
2005 “Schönheit, Der Sprung im Spiegel”, Städtische Galerie Traunstein 2004 Künstler der Galerie, Galerie Ulrike Buschlinger, Weisbaden, Germany; “Size Does Matter”, eyewash@ Boreas Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; “The Medium is the Tedium”, The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh;
2003 “Pierogi Flatfiles“, Carlsbad Museum, New Mexico; “Expand“, Volkart Stiftung, Winterthur, Switzerland (catalog) (travels to Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen); “Art Cubicle“, Projektraum Mathias Kampl, Berlin; “Wheeling“, curated by Marcus Sendlinger, Galerie Jette Rudolph, Berlin (travels Post Gallery, LA; Cell Project Space, London);
2002 “Stardust Deluxe“, Lisa Lounge, Berlin; “Wachsernde Identitäten”, Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin; "Over the Moon", Kunstamt Kreuzberg, Berlin; “Private Affairs”, Kunsthaus Dresden (catalog); “Thin Skin”, AXA Gallery (catalog), New York, curated by ICI NY, (travels until 2004 to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ; Gemeentemuseum Helmond, The Netherlands; International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen, McAllen, TX ; Chicago Cultural Center, IL; Boise Art Museum, ID Texas,) 2001 “What’s Wrong?”, Trade Apartment, London; Kunst+Brief”, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin (catalog); “If we were Kings”, Adlershof, KMZ, Berlin, Adlershof; “Berlin_London_2001”, ICA, London
2000 “The Old News”, PS 122, New York; “no vacancies”, curated by Angelika Richter and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin (CD Rom); “John, I’m only Dancing...’ part 2, The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland; Non Plus Ultra, F M Schwarz, Köln; We’re not in Kansas Anymore, Poplar Baths, London; John, I’m Only Dancing..., Margaret Harvey Gallery, University of Hertfordshire, St. Albans, England

Projects

"I Wish This Was A Song" and "The Dangerpony Project" with Loushy Art and Projects, Tel Aviv

Dangerpony Concerts:
2013 Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin
2012 “I Wish This Was A Song”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; “Missklang,” West Germany, Berlin
2010 Picture disk vinyl release, West Germany, Berlin
2009 “The Carnival Within,” Uferhallen, Berlin

Collections

Berlinische Galerie, Video Forum NBK, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, Vattenfall Foundation, Kunstsammlung des Landes Rheinland-Pfalz, and private collections in Europe and abroad

Bibliography

2013 Catalog „ungesehen und ungehört: Künstler reagieren auf die Sammlung Prinzhorn“, Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg; Catalog „Die Kunst der Zeichnung“, Kunstverein Essenheim / Altes Rathaus Ingelheim.; 2012 Catalog "I Wish This Was a Song" Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; Catalog "Biennial of Drawing", Kunstverein Eislingen
2011 "Laura Bruce," Fahnemann Projects 2010 Catalog “Laura Bruce: The Castle Drawings”; ”Helmut Germer and Thomas Neeser, The First Dimension (Basel: Birkhauser, 2010),
2009 Catalog “The Carnival Within,” Uferhallen, Berlin; Catalog “Fully Booked,” Hotel Beethoven, Bonn; Catalog “Was ist dass?” espace artcore/JTM Gallery, Paris
2008 Catalog, “The Hunt” fruehsorge contemporary drawings
2007 “Drunk on Dreams,” FUKT Magazine and exhibition catalog; Review, “Grüne Propheten im Heiligen Zorn,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 22 May
2006 “The Animation Issue,” FUKT Magazin; Catalog, “Landowners,” Galerie Pankow; “Über das Schwarzweiss Zeichnerischer Selbstbestimmung” (“The Black and White of Drawn Self Determination”) 2005 Review, “Endlich glücklich sitzen”, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, 22. März; Wiesbadener Kurier, Review “Buschlicnger: Arbeiten von Laura Bruce”, 26 März 2004 Catalog “Laura Bruce” Texts by Mark Gisbourne, Uta Grundman, Jan Verwoert; article, “Laura Bruce - The Wide”, Sächsiche Zeitung, PLUSZ, 22 April; article, “The hidden beauty of everyday objects we take for granted”, Scotland on Sunday, 29 Feb; article, “Mind your Language”, The Scotsman, 16 March; article, The List, issue 489; article, The Big Issue, issue 465; 2003 interview, Metro Newspaper, Manchester, 14 Nov; 2002 BBC Open University Television Program on Contemporary Video Art written and narrated by Dave Beech; article, "Kleiner Abwasch in Zwickau: eine Küchenrevolution", Katje Uhlemann, Freie Presse, 4.12.02; brochure, Laura Bruce, Büro für Kunst, Dresden; catalog, “Private Affairs”, Kunsthaus Dresden; catalog, “Thin Skin”, Independent Curators International, New York City, New York; catalog, “Wachsernde Identitäten”, Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin; article, Jens Bisky, Wachs noch einmal, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1/2 June; article, Susanne Altmann, “Sensation Intimität”, Tageszeitung, 3 April; article, Susanne Altmann, “Feenland ist Abgebrannt?”, Dresdener Zeitschrift, March; review, Lisa Werner-Art, “Video, Video…und Alltag”, Dresdener Neueste Nachrichten, 22 March; review, “Doppelausstellung privater Affairen, Dresdener Stadtteil Zeitung, March; article, Klara Wallner, "mittendrin und andersartig", Magazine Friedrichstraße, 1/01; 2001 Kunstbrief 2000, Dokumention, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin; review, Angelika Richter, “Die Hochzeitsbetrachterin”, www.blitzreview.com; 2000 review, Christian Glöde, “Good Losties”, www.blitzreview.com; review, Jürgen Kisters, “Verlangen nach dem Höchsten”, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger Nr 132, 8 June; review, Sally O’Reilly, “We’re not in Kansas Anymore”, www.londonart.co.uk, May; review, Oliver Koerner, “Loved Ones”, Tageszeitung, 7 March; review, Mirko Driller, “Der schwebende Großvater”, Berliner Morgenpost, 3 March; brochure, Maryanne by the Water, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin; 1999 “...ab geht die Post”, documentation, Aktions Galerie, Berlin; Kunstbrief 1999, documention, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin; 1997 documentation, The Slade Journal, Volume 1

Links

www.soundcloud.com/dangerponyband

   

Laura Bruce

Graunstrasse 36
13355 Berlin

+491791376490
laurathebruce@yahoo.com
laura-bruce.com

   





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