Damn nice drawings at the DAM

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Marc Brandenburg
Dec 2010 to Feb. 20, 2011

Thumbnail image for MB_man.jpg

MB_vomit.jpg Drawings of a photographic negative done with a great amount of skill and sensitivity to the beauty of graphite laid down on paper. This describes the drawings done by Berlin artist Marc Brandenburg, which are currently on show on the 3rd floor of the Hamilton building of the Denver Art Museum. and will remain on view until February 20, 2011.

We can recognize the imagery although it is a negative - everything that would be white is black and vise-versa - of people or landscapes.

Mostly people. Realistically drawn people I found interesting to look at because of the skill of the drawing, but I didn't feel like a voyeur because they were the negative. Oddly, I felt like I had permission to stare, and not feel I was staring at a human.

Another twist, and probably a benefit, of the negative is that the image of pop singer, Michael Jackson, was very black because he was so light. Some figures were blacker, and must have been whiter in real life.

The drawing of a naked man (photo at right) was cut out of the page and floating in a shadowbox with a black background. Likewise, the drawing of vomit was cut out and lying on a pedestal. A couple of kids came into the space and really liked the drawing. Then their parents read the title -- Vomit -- and everyone said, oooohh, yuck.

Even when the drawings retained the rectangular shape of their paper, they were floating in the frames. Sometimes the paper curled a little and felt like snapshots.

Especially the first one, above. It was long and made up of a series of pieces of paper, not just one page.

The subject of this long drawing was a protest march. The words on the banners were in German and backwards, so it's meaning was insignificant. I could concentrate on the images. The series made a complete 360 degree view of the scene, laid out like a panorama. The series started with people beside the viewer, then people in front , on the other side and back around to the people behind.

The negative rather than positive images made me feel weirdly distance from the scene, but warmly attracted to it because of the soft beauty of the pencil on paper forming shadows and modeling the forms to make them feel round and alive. Drawing is an intimate medium. Really feels like something made by hand.

And being made by hand, the shadows and textures are often done in different ways. And then there are the whites - the untouched paper. I had to remember that they would be black - the blackest black. And my imagination is probably better at making this kind of black than a pencil is at making true, true black. My companion complained that it was boring to have to keep translating these from negative to positive, but as you've read, I kept thinking of reasons why it worked.

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This page contains a single entry by terry published on January 22, 2011 6:30 PM.

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