Exhibition posters from different periods of Brauner’s activity and posterity can be seen from the street as we approach the Dada Gallery. Events themselves can be exhibited, as the title of the exhibition suggests. But after we enter the exhibiting space, we become part of another, ongoing event.
A revolving mandolin brings motion to the exhibition. It is a sort of pre-surrealist object that was owned by Harry Brauner, the painter’s brother. Victor painted the mandolin in a Cubist-Constructivist style. Enlarged motifs from the painted object can be seen in the exhibition site, to document the analogies and dialogues between Brauner’s early works and some later drawings and paintings.
Such dialogues occur also between extremely well-known works by Brauner and some cartoon-like drawings in obscure, peripheric periodicals from Romania. L’étrange cas de Monsieur K. from 1934 was made famous by André Breton in his Le surréalisme et la peinture : “Brauner’s paintings are armed and, on the fringe of what is taking place there openly, are always celebrating the latest episode in a street-battle in which all the forces of human subservience are bound to be utterly defeated. It is not without reason that Mr. K, criss-crossed by medals, masses, prostitutes and machine-guns, displays at the entrance to this exhibition a belly comparable to the one that Alfred Jarry had already tattooed to represent a target. This explicit image long ago ceased to make us laugh. Brauner’s vision scores a bull’s eye on it each time” – wrote Breton in 1934, on the occasion of an exhibition that took place at Galerie Pierre, in Paris. The current exhibition shows a cartoon from the same period, published in the Romanian left-wing periodical Pinguinul. The figure is clearly the same, only the context differs. And both contexts are political, of course, but on a different level.
Victor Brauner contributed to several Romanian avant-garde journals as a visual artist. The Dada Gallery shows a wide range of such contributions – early Constructivist works, but also Dada and Surrealist works. An original copy of the review 75 HP that launched Brauner’s “invention”, pictopoetry (collage-like works created in cooperation with Ilarie Voronca) is also exhibited as a major attraction of the event.
One can easily differentiate in the exhibiting space between the Romanian period and the international presence of Brauner’s work. The artist contributed as an illustrator to several volumes of his friends and of Surrealist precursors. These volumes, alongside with copies of avant-garde journals publishing Brauner’s contributions are placed in different, well-delimited spaces of the exhibition.
Fabrice Maze’s documentary about Brauner can also be seen at the site, bringing additional dynamics to the gallery’s space. Originals of personal documents add to the uniqueness of experiencing the personal sphere of the painter.
Original drawings, collages, lithographs, artists’ books, all of them coming from private collections complete the range of exhibited items. The exhibition is able to show the roots and also the international dimensions of Brauner’s works, being a landmark of the reinsertion of Brauner’s visual art into the Romanian cultural space.
The publication of a representative exhibition catalogue is expected in cooperation with the Vellant Publishing House, with contributions by Margaret Montagne, Erwin Kessler, Mădălina Lascu, Dominique Rabourdin, Florin Colonaş, Yvonne Hasan and George Ene.
(Victor Brauner: Victor – Victorios. Drawings, Engravings, Objects, Events. Galeria Dada, Bucharest, 13th April – 11th August 2019)
Balázs Imre József