Günter Brus. Picture-Poems


Curated by: Roman Grabner

Open House: 19.06.2021, 10am - 5pm, free admission

About the exhibition

With his 1970 Acid Test (Zerreißprobe), Brus ends his period of actionism and a body of drawn and literary work is created that encompasses tens of thousands of sheets. As a transition, he produces the text-image volume titled Mad Wisp (Irrwisch).

This consists of anarchic floods of language, cascading rhymes, neologisms, corny jokes and nonsense which serve notice on any stringency of content and re-tellability and are counterpointed by destructive and disturbing drawings. At a time when hints at an upheaval in his creative work appear, whose direction and impact he senses more than knows, he is confronted with the work of an artist-poet whose erratic work becomes his inspiration and guide: William Blake. For Brus, Blake’s ‘illuminated manuscripts’ became the model and legitimation for his own manuscripts, as he still called his picture-poems in the 1970s.

Brus’s picture-poems are generally defined as a synthesis of language and image, in which the two forms of expression do not necessitate one other, but rather lead a dialectical and contrapuntal existence beside and with one another. The text does not provide explanations of the image, yet is rich in linguistic imagery and metaphors; the drawing is not an illustration of what is written, though within it, there is the poetically narrated equally so.

Sometimes Brus starts from his own texts, on the basis of which drawings are created later; sometimes drawings are made first, to be supplemented later by texts. Ideally, the togetherness intertwines in the creative process.

‘Sometimes a few sentences occur to me. I write them down and immediately start drawing. Then I suddenly get on a roll until I say to myself: the trains of thought may last longer, something could develop from it. Then I let it run and soon realise that I have to reserve a lot of pages. Mostly I then anticipate in order to keep up the flow of the drawing. I then make a program for myself so that there is an aesthetic baseline,’ according to Brus in an interview with Jens Rönnau.

The exhibition at the BRUSEUM, devoted for the first time exclusively to his picture-poems, shows the process of creation and diversity of this genre developed by Brus from the early 1970s to the present day.




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