Bronstein uses architecture as a means to engage with power: of history, monuments, and the built environment. Using pen and ink on paper, his acutely drafted drawings capture an archival romance of a grand age, a nostalgic longing for the imposing and imperial. Adopting the styles of various architects and movements, his elaborate designs become plausible inventions, both paying homage to and critiquing the emblems of civil engineering. In Elevation and Interior of Historic Building, Bronstein’s plan borders on abstraction. Depicting the history of architecture from a simple hole in the ground to a hut, Byzantine temple, Baroque cathedral, enshrined in the cold industrial shell of a modernist shed, Bronstein dissects the lineage of ideas and ideologies, all pastiched together with a dandyish pomo flair.
Intervention For A Piazza In Turin presents the same project design as Proposal, but from a more obscure angle that emphasises the dramatic scale and authoritarian power of Bronstein’s intersecting walls. Rendered on tracing paper, the distant city horizon and classical square are made passive and delicate, dominated by the opaque gouache barriers. By giving his intervention concrete form, Bronstein wittily claims the territory with an X, implicating a Machiavellian control in the way public space is conceived and developed.
Bronstein’s architectural drawings explore both the functionality of civic space, as well as the inherent values associated with the styles of different times. His work often combines reference to a multiplicity of design aesthetics, ranging from the imposing authority of neo-classicism, the ornate dynamism of baroque, and the decadent pastiche of postmodernism. Through these ‘moshed up’ embellishments, Bronstein highlights the way building facades convey ideas of wealth, power, or grandeur. Though architectural fashion mirrors social values, it also represents the will or vision of the architects and commissioners who impose their ideas on the public – with the intent that their work will last for generations. Bronstein’s drawings critically examine this subjectivity.
Though Pablo Bronstein’s Relocation Of Temple Bar looks like an aged document, it depicts an overlap between historical and current events. Temple Bar was one of London’s seven medieval gates and was located at the juncture of Fleet Street and The Strand. The building depicted is Christopher Wren’s design which replaced the original after The Great Fire. To accommodate increasing traffic, in 1878 the monument was dismantled for preservation. Its 2700 stones were purchased by Sir Henry Meux in 1880 and the gate was duly reconstructed at his Theobald Park house. In 2003, the building was reacquired by the City of London, and now stands at Paternoster Square. Bronstein imbues the Relocation of Temple Bar with the epic heroicism of legend.