Critics’ Picks

Ohne Titel (Untitled), 2007, oil on canvas, 10' 6 3/8“ x 19' 8 1/4”. Installation view.

Ohne Titel (Untitled), 2007, oil on canvas, 10' 6 3/8“ x 19' 8 1/4”. Installation view.

Vienna

Herbert Brandl

Galerie Nächst St. Stephan
Grünangergasse 1/2
September 14–November 3, 2007

Working in bright, vivid colors and often on large canvases, Herbert Brandl draws inspiration from the photographs of landscapes, mountains, meadows, and forests that he takes during his travels and pulls from magazines. His sublime works in the Austrian pavilion of this year’s Venice Biennale turn the space into a quiet temple of painting, although not all the canvases he made for the exhibition could be accommodated there. Hence, two particularly excellent works, as well as other smaller-scale canvases, are now on view in this exhibition. Too dominant to be exhibited in Venice, they are displayed in Vienna almost like heroes: Each is given its own room.

In the first space, the viewer is overwhelmed by a vast painting whose broad brushstrokes lend the composition a multifaceted appearance that looks almost crystalline. We see a close-up of flower petals that leads into a dazzling, almost lurid field of color. Initially, the second, equally impressive large-format work can be only partially glimpsed through a doorway; after entering the room, however, visitors can take in the whole painting as a full sensory experience, one similar to that of encountering a sweeping waterfall. Unlike the Venice pavilion, this gallery, with its limited dimensions, only intensifies the explosive force of Brandl’s paintings, a force that we perceive as endless space. These are not portrayals of landscapes, but real landscapes, experienced individually and intensively.