Herbert Brandl: Katana

Cat. Klaus & Elisabeth Thoman, Innsbruck/Vienna

Exhibition catalogue, edited by Klaus & Elisabeth Thoman
text (German/English) by Florian Steininger
64 p with 35 coloured illustrations
185 x 300 mm, hardcover

ISBN 978-3-86442-046-7

(out of print)

The traces made by the scalpel!

A year after his phenomenal paint­ing exhibition at the Deichtor­hallen in Hamburg in 2009 and immediately after an exhibition of his monotypes opened at the end of 2010 the Albertina in Vienna, ­Herbert Brandl had to undergo emergency surgery due to an acute aneurysm. »The weapons used in the crime soon followed the traces made by the scalpel on his body, preserved in display cases and ­cabinets, as aesthetic, cultural ­visual aids; inspirational commodities for his next painting«, writes Florian Steininger in his contri­bution to this book. So nothing has remained as it was, apart from the fact that Herbert Brandl still manages to merge panoramas of mountains, among other things, and breathtaking close-up and long-distance views with one another in his inimitable manner. Because after the carnage per­petrated on his own body, the mountains became bloodier, »the snow-white fields and hillsides were stained with the actionistic signs of violence and death.« Who doesn’t immediately think of Uma Thurman in »Kill Bill«, who slays  O-Ren Ishii with her Hattori Hanzo sword, turning the snow blood-red? There is an installation shot in this small volume in landscape format, where the folds of the katana blade made of hammered steel look like a mountain panorama, whereas – even in the blurred distance – an extremely wide mountain panorama which doesn’t seem to have a top or bottom and spanning the breadth of the sword, forms the background: the relationship between the abstract and the real couldn’t be more incisive. The rest of Herbert Brandl’s new approach to his work goes even deeper into close-up mode: the once cool gesture – that anti-emotional attitude – has become a »veritable attack of harsh marks on the canvas, a ­mani­fold overlaying of sweeping gestures that lend the work a ­vertiginous motion«.