Vittorio Brodmann, the contemporary existentialist looks relaxed


Even if during the last two centuries many artists have tried various ways to alter its simple alchemy, painting remains a strictly self-contained art practice based on three elements: two-dimensional support, pictorial medium, related information. This latter, most of the time what really makes the master’s artistic achievements so extraordinary, is generally linked to the artist’s own personal life. It follows that his experience as a human being, with a specific and always problematic social role, is for him as important as his pictorial technique, style, colour, knowledge of perspective, passion, general culture, discipline, motivation, sensitivity, and so on.


This long introduction is needed to present an emerging young talent, Vittorio Brodmann. He is 27, he lives in Vienna, and he will have a solo show at Gregor Staiger‘s gallery in Zürich at the end of August, while currently he is exhibiting in a group show at Martos Gallery.


Brodmann is from Ettingen, a small town 10 kilometres far from Basel, Switzerland. He studied at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Zürich, and at the Haute École d‘Art et de Design, Geneva. What he is doing on the canvas – following a trend including artists such as Ella Kruglyanskaya or Oliver Osborne- is placing characters inspired to the world of comic stripes and cartoons into a sort of existentialist atmosphere that can move from drama to comedy. Painted in a smart small scale, Mr. Brodmann’s most convincing pictures are disturbed ones, in a way that brings to mind artists like Lucien Freud or Vincent Van Gogh, thus painters who have devoted their talent to express human being’s life struggle.


The first important element is that Brodmann’s subjects are sometimes brought into focus by allusive titles such as No longer bracketed butt, News from Independence, Hard day at the office, Nature vs. Culture, or Life’s funny unless you’re the punchline, which could as well be appropriate for a punk song, or for a novel by Jonathan Franzen. They ambitiously drive the beholder to reflect himself in the mirror that is in front of him. Other times the painting’s title is a statement, like Every time a couple gets married two singles die, or is simply Yet to be found. But in this cases, the reading process is not that inspiring.


The second main element to be considered in Brodmann’s art practice is the artist’s interest in performance and comedy. At the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, he re-enacted a choreography originally performed by a R&B singer, Ciara (2011). In the occasion of his last solo show at Gregor Staiger’s gallery, he placed at the centre of the room a short video picturing himself while consulting books on how to be a comedian (2012). Brodmann also painted a canvas as the backdrop for the first play of Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff at the New Theater (Farming in Europe, co-written with Pablo Larios and Dena Yago, 2013). These episodes are indeed the place where Brodmann’s painting related info starts to take shape.

September 7, 2014