From September 18th to October 23rd, 2021, KOTARO NUKAGA, Roppongi is pleased to announce that we will be presenting ‘ALLOW ACTION (GOLD PAINTINGS)’, a solo exhibition by Stefan Brüggemann. This marks the artist’s second show with the gallery, and three years since he opened the gallery’s first show in October 2018.
Based in London and Mexico City, Stefan Brüggemann’s diverse practice spans across sculpture, video, painting, and installation work. Skillfully combining his shrewd critique on modern society with post-pop aesthetics, Brüggemann appropriates the overwhelming onslaught of news, social media, advertisements and text that we encounter in our daily lives to expose the contradictions that prevail in our ever-accelerating digital society. His ability to grasp timeless principles and express them with a pop touch—often through vivid colors and familiar materials such as mirrors and neon signs– has garnered him high acclaim. In 2019 he held a solo show at the Pompidou Centre, Paris and he continues to expand the breadth of his projects worldwide.
In this show, Brüggemann will be showcasing ten new pieces from his latest, ‘Gold Paintings’, which was born during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. Since ancient times, gold has been regarded as a spiritual material; golden ornamentation was the mark of royalty, and it also held symbolic usage in rituals and funerals. Later, in 1816, England enforced the “gold standard”, establishing gold as the value standard of currency, making it a symbol of high value from an economic aspect as well. By creating works using gold leaf, a material with both spiritual and economic definitions of worth and one that is constantly fluctuating in value, Brüggemann questions the value of objects in uncertain modern society. The ‘Gold Paintings’ in this series were made by first attaching printed text decals onto a wooden panel. Sheets of gold leaf were then roughly layered by hand, and as a finishing touch the surface was scarred by stapling the wood panel from behind or hacking at the front with a knife. On some, the bottom layers peek through the peeling gold leaf where it was shredded by the artist; on others, the stapled gold leaf crumbles and flakes apart. By leaving behind traces of his physical movements, the works become uniquely marked, inviting different interpretations into each individual artwork. The delicate gold leaf that Covers the surface reflects even the faintest light, exposing and amplifying even the slightest scratches and dents on the work. In this way it becomes a device that reminds us of the torrent of text that floods our digital society, which exist limitlessly beyond the letters that appear in the work.
Brüggemann’s laconic work cuts through the noise of the present moment to interrogate our notions of value. In this period of ideological instability and economic fluctuation we have all become speculators in the markets of faith and fear: our values and the value of life itself both face a prolonged period of volatility. The texts (taken from Brüggemann’s HYPER-POEM) are cryptic excerpts from the chaotic static of digital life. Such snatches of caustic language can jog us out of our collective reverie, creating a fissure through which we can escape the frenzied speculation of the markets that govern our lives. In this alternate space, we might access a different way of thinking about the value of things.
The reflective surfaces of these works, with their varied textures and mesmeric rhythms, invite contemplation. Indeed, as the viewer moves through the space light dances and plays over the gold leaf. In this way the work demands time and space for reflection, a moment of calm in which speculation gives way to contemplation. The scarred and stapled canvases dramatise the uneasy union of spiritual and economic value. Yet in this intervention Brüggemann scratches a golden through line that traverses this divide, offering a wry antidote to the uncertainty of the present.