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JH

Knockout Braunias Drawings

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Mark Braunias, Untitled Drawings, 2 of 9, 2011, ink and acrylic on paper, 200 x 150 cm Mark Braunias, Untitled Drawings, 8 of 9, 2011, ink and acrylic on paper, 200 x 150 cm Mark Braunias, Untitled Drawings, 1 of 9, 2011, ink and acrylic on paper, 200 x 150 cm Mark Braunias, Untitled Drawings, 3 of 9, 2011, ink and acrylic on paper, 200 x 150 cm Mark Braunias, Untitled Drawings, 4 of 9, 2011, ink and acrylic on paper, 200 x 150 cm Mark Braunias, Untitled Drawings, 5 of 9, 2011, ink and acrylic on paper, 200 x 150 cm Mark Braunias, Untitled Drawings, 6 of 9, 2011, ink and acrylic on paper, 200 x 150 cm Mark Braunias, Tin Head, 2011, enamel and acrylic on board, 120 x 90 cm Mark Braunias, Mellow Yellow, 2011, enamel and acrylic on board, 120 x 90 cm Mark Braunias, Bleeding Heart Liberal, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 150 cm

These succeed because they avoid flat shapes - which in Braunias' hands often become over-clear, cute or (when small) twee. His large floppy swollen (sometimes headless) images accentuate soft body contours with nuanced shading, suggesting shoulders or buttocks in the manner of Francis Bacon, and introducing an unexpected gravitas.

Auckland

 

Mark Braunias
Snips & Snails & Puppy Dog Tails

 

25 May - 18 June 2011

We have here a characteristic Braunias exhibition, except there is no painting or drawing directly on the wall. There are a couple of canvases, a few painted panels, a series of painted drawings on heavy builder’s paper, many cut-out cardboard and hardboard pieces in groups, and smaller drawings galore - made with paint, pastel, charcoal and crayon, and typed text. Plus a sculpture made from cardboard boxes with projecting drawings.

The driving impetus is Braunias’ love of cartoons and satire, nodding to Mother Goose nursery rhymes but referencing Disney and Warner Bros comic characters (humans, birds and dogs) - along with tips of the hat to other artists like Bill Hammond, Rob McLeod, Elizabeth Murray, Denys Watkins, Carroll Dunham and even Francis Bacon.

Braunias’ best work comes when he revels in his graphic sensibility using line or tone - and avoids too much complicated fiddly colour with paint. There is a wonderfully delicate suite of sixteen drawings (presented on the wall as a grid) exploring head profiles, these shapes drawn in black ink using a fine nibbed Rotring cartridge pen. Exquisite with their understated but highly descriptive cross hatching, Braunias’ confidently virtuoso works show him thinking through the possibilities of morphological and comic expression.

Another series of nine big painted drawings on heavy paper is also a salient highlight, as is one related canvas, Bleeding Heart Liberal. They succeed because they avoid flat shapes - which in Braunias’ hands often become over-clear, cute or (when small) twee. These large floppy swollen (sometimes headless) images accentuate soft body contours with nuanced shading, suggesting shoulders or buttocks in the manner of Francis Bacon, and introducing an unexpected gravitas.

Braunias’s works succeed when they avoid a stagey sweetness, and these improvised, processual ‘unfinished’ drawings help achieve that, especially when the inside/outside contrast around the contours is underplayed or subverted. This is an inconsistent show, but the really good works are truly extraordinary.

John Hurrell

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This Discussion has 2 comments.

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Roger Boyce, 8:03 p.m. 19 June, 2011

You called it correctly John. This bunch of work (at least in reproduction) is really first rate.

I've always enjoyed (well, at least since moving to Aotearoa) Braunias' plow-his-own-furrow visual thinking but these pieces look to be a formidable new plateau.

The artists you cite as influence are on the money - two that could fortify your list would be (of course) Picasso & Picabia.

Of late, a great contemporary permission-giver ,for the sort of thing Braunias is up to, would be Thomas Houseago. Braunias could give him a run for the money. Figuratively speaking, of course.

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Andrew Paul Wood, 12:54 p.m. 20 June, 2011

I really do think he's brilliant - they must have some damned fine brain genes in that family methinks. Definitely concur on the comparison to Rob McLeod and Elizabeth Murray - but why not include some of the biomorphic surrealists like Miro and hell, even Dali? One could even make a claim for late Picasso.

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