•  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
  •  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
  •  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
  •  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
  •  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
Saatchi Art
Saatchi Store
Current Exhibition

EXHIBITED AT THE SAATCHI GALLERY

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Matthew Brannon
Police Officer Giving Up

2006

Silkscreen on paper

76 x 58.5 cm
Utilising the aesthetics of graphic art, Matthew Brannon’s work explores the gulf between social ideals and personal crisis. Using screen printing as form of analogue reproduction, Brannon’s images carry both the suggestion of mass replication and aura of original artworks. Directly challenging the void between language and actuality, Brannon often combines text and image to illustrate the potential for dysfunction. In Police Officer Giving Up, Brannon juxtaposes a neutral symbol of a houseplant with a statement of desperation. Exuding the inadequate sentiment of greeting cards, Brannon offers decoration as a feeble mask for emotional depletion.
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Matthew Brannon
How It All Ends

2006

Silkscreen on paper

76 x 58.5 cm
In Matthew Brannon’s How It All Ends he creates an ironic game of semiotics, using an abstracted plant as a visual representation of the accompanied text. Reworking a subject associated with art historical religious paintings, he doesn’t present a fiery Armageddon or cherubic heaven, but rather a bland composition reminiscent of wall paper swatches or gift shop stamps. The image is compelling through its crafted elegance, creating a blithe meditative focus. In confronting the spiritual, Brannon offers a bereft philosophy, conceiving the human condition with disappointment and chagrin.
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Matthew Brannon
Hair of the Dog

2006

Silkscreen on paper

76 x 58.5 cm
Matthew Brannon’s work investigates media imagery as a cultural interface, exploring the gap between expectation and inadequacy. Using topical problems such as substance abuse, body image, and class divide as metaphors for social and psychological fractioning, Brannon pits visual ‘ideals’ versus internalised corruption to create conceptual instances of breakdown. In Hair of the Dog, Brannon’s clip art-style motif reduces the idea of individuality to an infinitely replicable generic. Coupled with a cynical script typeset in ornamental font his blossoms become emblematic of disease, addiction, and futility.
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Matthew Brannon
Sick Whore

2006

Silkscreen on paper

76 x 58.5 cm
Matthew Brannon’s prints convey a poetic distillation. Conjuring a complete image from the most meagre information, the ‘messaging’ of Brannon’s images is transferred through their subtlety of form. Situated between luxurious refinement and divested replication, Brannon adopts the associations of design to comment on psychology as by-product of consumer environment. In Sick Whore, Brannon underscores a spindly plant with an abject description or insult. Embossed with the finality of an epitaph, Brannon sums up a totality of a frail, abused, and embarrassing existence.
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Matthew Brannon
Other Peoples Money

2006

Silkscreen & embroidery on canvas

254 x 150 cm
Taking emotional vulnerability and solecism as a starting point for investigation, Matthew Brannon often situates his work around themes of self-destructive behaviours that outwardly reflect inner dysfunction, what he describes as “personal pathologies”. Other People’s Money extols the complications of careerism; the image of a limpid dripping/bleeding eel is both trophy and pitiful personification. Brannon describes the grey area of morality in the stark contrast of black and white, cut through by a tread patterned diagonal stripe suggesting a ‘hit and run’ hierarchy of ethics.
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Matthew Brannon
People Who Divide People

2006

Silkscreen & embroidery on canvas

254 x 150 cm
In People Who Divide People, Matthew Brannon adapts his eel motif as a logo of power and class divide. The image itself contains multiple symbolism: as loathsome viper, lowly animal, and revolutionary icon of early America. Rendered in black and white, the delicate pattern is reminiscent of both lace and tire tracks. Humorously recalling the colonial motto “Don’t Tread On Me”, Brannon’s snake supplants ideas of freedom liberation as an elitist decal of ‘good taste’.
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Matthew Brannon
Switching Positions

2006

Matt black vinyl foil or enamel

Dimensions variable
Matthew Brannon’s Switching Positions is executed as a wall mural. Showing an entanglement of knives, Brannon conceives not a logo of violence, but apathy. Rendered in black and dripping ‘blood’, Brannon’s blades are diminished to the international language of pictograph signposting, exuding an outline of ‘idea’ rather than a portent of immediate threat. Through this reduction, Brannon presents content as void: his weapons are represented by a blank vacancy, precariously balanced in harmonious composition. Emblazoned in grand scale, Switching Positions presents an unnerving propaganda of disconsolation and hopelessness.
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Matthew Brannon
Nevertheless (and 4 details)

2009

Wood, steel, aluminum, string, glass, sintra, bulsa foam, acrylic paint, enamel paint, canvas, soap, mouse trap, sound cancelling device, water from a melted ice sculpture

374 x 558 x 401 cm
The title of Matthew Brannon’s sculpture Nevertheless (2010) is an appropriately oblique ‘giveaway’ from an artist known for the subtlety and humour of his language, objects and prints: “Nevertheless,” he points out, “is an adverb comprised of three words: never - the - less. It became my stance against the panic that ensued from the economic collapse. An attempt to answer the question: what can we make when we shouldn’t be making anything?”

Brannon’s answer to the question is to create shop window-like displays and make-believe theatrical sets. Nevertheless was made on the occasion of Brannon’s first show in London in 2009, and it was the perfect departure from other work being made at the time around urban malaise. Brannon, based in New York, dedicated the London show to the idea of the transatlantic sea voyage.

“As I was working I was rereading Evelyn Waugh’s short autobiographical book The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, viewing the cruise episode of his televised Brideshead Revisited, and digesting the ship passage in Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada. There’s much to be said about such close quarters. About being in between lands and lost at sea.”

What Brannon has made is a sculpture of an installation, like a set for an untold story, in which seduction and frustration are masterfully ever unfolding. The scene’s suggestive props (water, curtains, handrails, dirty magazines under the mattress) contrast with an exit sign and rope cordoning off the piece, preventing anyone from entering the installation, and leaving the narrative up to the viewer.

“It’s not interactive but you can imagine it being interacted with. I told everyone it was the set of a play. Of a play about a murder on a ship. It’s true I did write it, but that’s another story. What you’re shown here is just the set. I’m allowing you to put the pieces together yourself. To do what you would with it.”

ARTICLES

Matthew Brannon: Portikus Frankfurt am Main
2010, Issue 138, by Amanda Coulson, Frieze Magazine

What do ‘Coronet Brandy’ and ‘El Producto Cigar’ have in common? Certainly they’d make for a nice combination, but their logos were both created (in 1941 and 1952, respectively) by the legendary American graphic designer, Paul Rand. Beginning in the 1940s, Rand is known for having revolutionized graphic design, producing globally recognized corporate logos for the likes of IBM and UPS. The works on view in Matthew Brannon’s solo show, ‘A question answered with a quote’, appeared at first glance to be an homage to this venerable star of advertising and communication: simple images, clean lines, bright block colours depicting consumer items in cleverly stacked graphic collages. From a distance they seem to be vintage ads, something Mad Men’s Don Draper might have thought up.
The items depicted in Brannon’s letterpress prints – exhibited here on tilted wooden stands resembling rudimentary drafting tables – are straight out of a fashion or luxury lifestyle magazine. Lobsters, wine glasses, ladies’ stockings, a Rolex watch and the inevitable array of super-sexy ‘i’s – iPod, iPad, iPhone – all look glossy, vibrant and attractive. Yet the discreet texts underneath, where one would expect a catchy slogan, turn out to be unexpectedly caustic: some imply a blackly humorous narrative while others make mordant observations on modern life.
Indeed, while most of the depicted objects are lusted-after luxury items, many are actually in a state of decay – worn, used, leftover – adding a kind of jadedness or shabbiness to the scenes. The champagne bottles and glasses, indicated by simple black profiles, are always empty and tipped on their sides (such as in Ladies Choice, 2007, or Regrets Only, 2008). The dark-red rose, which also looks like a full glass of red wine, in A Difference of Hours (2010), is past its peak, the leaves are beginning to fall and the petals will soon follow. Excerpts of text – ‘Dress Rehearsal/Closing Party’, ‘Cancelled Reservations’, ‘Who killed who the night before’ – imply shattered hope and disappointed expectations, just as the rose-as-wine-glass conjures images of the jilted, lonely drinker. These verses deny any of the relaxed sophistication one might have imagined and instead replace it with a sense of desperate striving to attain or maintain a certain social level through constant show and consumerism.
In the corner of the exhibition space, set off by Brannon’s two-tone graphic wallpaper, was a sculptural/sound piece comprising a white pedestal with black cubic speakers on either side – like a kind of sculptural Malevich – and a black record player with a white vinyl record on the turntable. A small shelf holds the white album cover with the piece’s title: Gag. Again, Brannon uses language to both emphasize and confuse: is it all a joke? Or is the gag a metaphorical restraint, or does it all make you sick?
Brannon’s barbed narrative texts are, according to the press release, meant to be a critical comment on ‘Immoderation, greed, excesses, and most gravely, indomitable hedonism.’ The artist is therefore making a criticism of the consumers’ world with the very means intended to make the punters buy. It sounds clever and subversive but somehow the visuals are simply too pretty or too catchy to really deliver a hard punch. One needs to remember that Brannon is selling something too – not only his work but also the intellectual ideas behind them, and it’s ultimately highly ironic to think of one of these prints ending up on a wealthy collector’s wall.
Rand struggled to bring elements of high art to graphic design and advertising, to lend it credibility and depth. Brannon is doing the reverse: taking the shallow language of advertising and trying to make it deeper. The show’s title ‘A question answered with a quote’ implies another kind of shallowness, an interrogative hoping for a profound response answered with a glib one-liner. Maybe, then, the best way to conclude is with one of Rand’s famous quotes: ‘Don’t try to be original; just try to be good.’

Read the entire article
Source: frieze.com

MATTHEW BRANNON: A question answered with a quote
by John Beeson, Spike Art Quartlery

Just inside the entrance to the gallery of Portikus, a multicolored letterpress print entitled Regrets Only (2008) introduces several tendencies in Matthew Brannon’s repertoire. Hanging down from the top of the page are two ghostly legs—below, an overturned champagne bottle, a radio, and the line of text: »Not another word.« An implicit reference to suicide is a fitting preface to this exhibition, which, with a forked tongue-in-cheek, often smuggles harsh language and macabre subject matter in the form of charmingly illustrative imagery.
Altogether, twenty-four prints in a similar format are positioned on eight wooden, viewing structures, as if providing a compendium of instructive parables; images and texts sit on white paper, set in black frames against a painted black surface, tilted back to promote direct, individual viewing. Supplementing these printed works are a decorative wallpaper along the back wall, a hanging sculpture of a light bulb painted black, and the sound installation Gag (2010)—gulps, coughs, and gasps resounding throughout the space with only moments of intervening silence. Stifling, disturbing, and arresting, the soundtrack speaks to the printed works’ didacticism and is only one example of the exhibition’s constant, self-reflexive interplay between consumption and excess.
New York-based artist Matthew Brannon (*1971) comes from a background of painting and book design, and his subjects and styling have drawn references to authors and filmmakers—from Capote to Calvino, Saki to Nabokov, Fitzgerald, Freud and, regularly, Jean Renoir—as well as to 50s American advertising-chic. Brannon’s sensitivity to detail can be seen in his flawless employment of traditional letterpress printing; that selfsame sensitivity to detail also motivates the total, aesthetic nature of the exhibition. From the elegant design of the print-viewing structures to their eccentric, off-axis arrangement in the space, this site-specific installation underscores the material and social attentiveness that Brannon’s work embodies and critiques. While standing in front of More Than Enough (2010)—a print depicting three iPods—viewers can glimpse, against the wall behind the print, the electronic equipment producing the sound installation. Creating a formally striking composition, the lustrous, black record player stands in stark contrast to the pure white of the record and the deep red of its label; this chic, minimal arrangement connotes material and social means at the same time that it displays an aesthetic that is popular in installations of contemporary art.
In the printed works, the broad array of iconography composes a real-life variety of personal possessions, from the tawdry to the extravagant. Although forms and references are often abstract to the point of evoking association, their consistent stylization specifically recalls the artist. Sometimes Brannon’s images and texts would seem to reference his own experience, or one like his, such as when he narrates the self-conscious thoughts of a professional artist in an art supplies store: »In front of you the undergraduate with a shopping list. Behind you the retired hobbyist.« The various texts’ constant oscillation from a voice of self-doubt, to one of cynicism, to one of resolution constitutes an earnest, effective humanity. Sometimes addressing viewers, sometimes provoking them, and sometimes speaking on behalf of them, the field of subject matter can be consuming, and its tone can evoke an emotional response, drawing the viewer into its reality. Nevertheless, in the last print in the far corner of the gallery space—once again, More Than Enough (2010)—Brannon addresses the ever-present possibility that he is presenting artifice: »So I finish my story and he says, ›wait, is this second hand information?‹« One can sense Brannon everywhere but, perhaps, never see him. What is most poignant and magnanimous in this offering is neither the abstraction of his visual language, nor the beauty of his stylized material, but rather the work’s candor, which collapses the distance between it and reality. So beautifully produced and installed, the art, itself, embraces indulgence but remains, in its textual referents, always self-conscious and critical. Brannon’s work speaks neither purely from a position of submission, nor from one of pure incisiveness, but of a consciousness of better habits. Here is a penetrating cross-section of contemporary life—distilled, made aesthetic, dramatized, and reified. After all, as one text concedes:

Read the entire article
Source: spikeart.at

matthew brannon - hyena

Matthew Brannon (b. 1971) grew up surrounded by the death rock and punk scene of Los Angeles. Opportunities to simply and quickly produce advertising and informative material such as posters, postcards, flyers and fanzines were utilised in manifold ways in this subculture, and were a definitive influence on Brannon's artistic socialisation. He now lives in New York and works in both the high- and low-end production of prints and posters. His tapestries and prints are produced using classic printing processes, the nature of which is often contrary to the dreary images they create.

Brannon's elegance and formalism is contrasted by consistent eerie content. Thus the supposedly easy-to-consume surfaces are overturned by the use of sinister, sometimes surreal-seeming texts, as seen in the series of two-colour silkscreen prints in the exhibition. Stylish graphic depictions of plants hover above the titles "How it all ends", "Hair of the Dog", "Police Officer Giving up" and "Sick Whore".

Following the thematic guidelines of "Penetration" (Brannon's last show at Jan Winkelmann / Berlin) "Hyena" extends his focus on the issue of the frailty and vulnerability of the human psyche. The constant and more or less present fears that sometimes allow a glimpse into the deepest of human abysses. Often these lead to what the artist calls "personal pathologies", i.e. substance abuse, alcoholism, sexual misadventure, careerism and megalomania. Best seen in the two new letterpress pieces, which balance between prose and poetry.

In addition to the already mentioned print series, two new large-format tapestries will be displayed. The oversized, almost iconic eels echo both graphically and conceptually the image of a whip.

At the centre of the "Hyena" exhibition is the piece of the same name. Composed of a phonograph record of a hyena barking and the drawing of a whip it is as atmospheric as it is absurd. The noises made by the restless, rambling, caged and panting animal mingle with the clanging of gates and audience chatter. The harsh maniacal and hysterical 'laughter' leads into the cracking sound of breaking bones.

Source: janwinkelmann.com