Critics’ Picks

View of “Geta Brătescu,” 2018.

Berlin

Geta Brătescu

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.)
Chausseestrasse 128-129
September 27–January 25

Geta Brătescu’s first solo exhibition at a Berlin institution presents the artist’s idiosyncratic approach to citation and the processing of forms through thirteen new and historical pieces, some of them previously unexhibited. Brătescu, who studied both art and literature, often assimilated her interest in text in her visual work, as she did in her reinterpretations of Goethe’s Faust, or her appreciation of Brecht’s protagonist in Mother Courage and Her Children. In Linia (Line), 2009, an index of triangular and semicircular shapes is arranged like an alphabet for a sign language, while Elnoi, 2006, brings together sixteen drawings into a book project. The drawings, made with her eyes closed, visualize imaginative journeys and narratives. “For all its self-control, the eye arrives to censor despite the joy it feels when seeing the sportiveness of temperamental freedom,” she writes in A.R.: Novel (2000). “To draw with your eyes closed is to invite the accidental on the one hand, and to defy it on the other, or: you invite it in order to defy it.”

Brătescu, who passed away in September, often worked with found materials, developing not only innovative variations through her serial bodies but also enriching and complicating them until they became a world of her own. This world came to culmination, first and foremost, in her Bucharest studio. The latest work in the exhibition is the half-hour-long video Gestul, desenul (Gesture, Drawing), 2018, made in collaboration with Ștefan Sava and shown here for the first time. Surrounded by paper piles, pens, and books, Brătescu expounds on the value of drawing, nested in the special nook that allowed her to preserve personal and intellectual independence—and the right to take part in cultural production. The showroom at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, withdrawn and intimate, provides the perfect setting for exploring how Brătescu translated her own experience into intimate, expansive experiences for others.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.