John Hurrell – 17 June, 2011
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.
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.