Critics’ Picks

View of “Geta Brătescu,” 2014.


Geta Brătescu

Galerie Barbara Weiss
Kohlfurter Strasse 41/43
May 3–July 26, 2014

Although Geta Brătescu has been favorably compared to Louise Bourgeois—undoubtedly because of her gender and the longevity of her prolific output—a more apt comparison might be to Joseph Beuys in the sheer fervor of her fusion of the mythic with modernist abstraction. At the same time, her work is unburdened with the German meister’s pedantry—it is quite content to stand on its own. Having worked in solitude in her native Romania for much of the past century, Brătescu, born in 1926 and still going strong, was first brought to the attention of a larger audience when her work was included in the main exhibition of the 2013 Venice Biennale.

Brătescu often works in series, and her Berlin exhibition consists of four of them, in addition to three stand-alone works, dating from the mid-1970s up to 2010. “Himere,” 2005, includes a suite of ten drawings that the artist made with her eyes closed—by which is presumably meant only in the execution of the black outlines, as the inner shapes have been perfectly colored-in with white, red, gray, and an occasional orange. Her zigzaggy, often cartoonish lines are hardly the product of a blind seeker; from them emerge identifiably anthropomorphic forms that seem confident yet playful in their creation. In “Jeu des Forms” (Play of Forms), 2009, another series, this geometric rigidity engages in a tug-of-war against inchoate shapelessness, a conflict played out against soft pastel backgrounds. The triangle is a recurring motif here, deployed not as a ponderous in-itself signifier but as an aggressive pointing device, adding a sharp edge to the wormy squiggles that otherwise populate the plane of the work of an artist who is either a folk modernist or a conceptual mystic.