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Known for modestly sized canvases of vivid, cartoonish brio, Swiss artist Vittorio Brodmann appears to be pivoting from the candy colored anthropomorphism that defined his earlier work toward a more nuanced and dreamlike vocabulary. Moreover, his latest exhibition advances that his penchant for amalgamating folks and fauna in cramped quarters has migrated into relaxed contours beset by watery brushwork.
The stanza-esque press release succinctly links itself to particular works while doling out generalities elsewhere. For instance, “…that Queen got her hoof on…” clearly alludes to the cerulean-crowned royal sitting astride an orange horse in Midnight Deadlines (all works 2018). Likewise, “….spotting the existential self” meets its match with the faint red “X” hovering over the demonic mouse-pig’s head in X Marks the Self. Yet the vagueness of “market waves” and “quotidian proclivities caught on loop” dismantle the text to image ratio the other phrases so neatly profess, making clear that Brodmann really only wants to meet you halfway.
Indeed, Brodmann’s output is a moving target, vacillating between abstraction and figuration, slapstick and sincerity, happenstance and premeditation, narrative and abandon. Such parlayed ambivalence is at its apex here in Slump, wherein an oblivious “salaried man in Ray-Bans” is accompanied by a looming, vampire-toothed apparition in a sea of pale green littered with fits of pink and orange. More ominous, perhaps, is the sad sack star of Automatism of Acquired Habits who evinces both aggression and amorousness after a bout of drinking. Is his clenched hand set upon assaulting or embracing his paramour? We are held in the balance.
By continually pulling at these inconclusive strands, Brodmann highlights that the subjects broached here (introspection, romantic pursuits, professional relationships, art history, politics) can’t be pigeonholed, as their interstitial nature and must be dealt with case by case. Two Birds, Two Stones, as the title suggests, is the opposite of a shortcut. It’s an arena of dealing with problems as they arise, one stone at a time.
Vittorio Brodmann: Two Birds, Two Stones runs March 4–April 21, 2018 at Freedman Fitzpatrick (6051 Hollywood Blvd, #107 Los Angeles, CA 90028)