Mexican artist Stefan Brüggemann presents his most recent body of work, Puddle Paintings, at the freshly opened Tadao Ando´s “Centro Roberto Garza Sada” in Monterrey, Mexico. With over twenty years of career, Brüggemann’s work is driven by post-conceptual practices that combine the media techniques characteristic of the late 60s and early 70s with a bitter response towards the categorisation of aesthetic values. While market-oriented, the artist touches various philosophical discourses (namely post-structuralism and deconstruction) that places his work away from a specific category. The use of text is essential for Brüggemann as he maintains a relationship to counter-cultural tendencies (e.g. the punk ideologies of the 80s) and other forms of international cultural representations.
Puddle Paintings is a series of medium-sized canvases (presented in a larger format for this exhibition) that take advantage of the spatial experience and modernist techniques. Distinguishing elements of previous work, such as the use of handwritten words, are combined with the raw application of heavy aluminium paint. Only small bits of the text remain visible while the elements of the rough monochromatic painting are undisguised While it makes a direct reference to abstract expressionism in the application of materials, it challenges the notion of “expression” given by the gesture of the artist’ brushstroke on the canvas.
The subordination of each of their parts defines an “anti-painting” or “anti-expressive” claim that takes advantage of the same features that have made an expressionistic painting. In other words, as the “New York School” use of abstraction to deliver a specific emotion, Brüggemann uses it to claim the contrary, to criticise painting and to avoid a personal prerogative. As the cliché turns into a trap, the artist’s personality seems more distant in the composition. The purely perceptual discipline awarded by the modernist aesthetics, is put into question by the use of the artistic work as a visual object or more broadly as a spatial experience.
With these canvases, the work requires the viewer to go from reading to looking. Their structures become an exploration of the continuities and tradeoffs between conceptual and perceptual logics. Puddle Paintings call for a different kind of visual attention, where the “re-materialisation” of the artistic expression challenges the definition of modernist painting.
Alberto Ríos de la Rosa