Kerstin Brätsch

In Kerstin Brätsch’s work, the autobiographical elements cannot be discounted. It’s important to keep in mind that this young artist was born in Hamburg thirty years ago and now lives in New York—this dual heritage deeply colors her work. Take, for example, her latest exhibition in Paris, “buybrätschwörst”: Its eighteen large-scale paintings on paper were presented in rotation at a rate of three per day, one in the window, one hanging as a room divider, and one attached to the wall with magnets. These works take as their target German Expressionism and its pose of virile heroism, which Brätsch enjoys both drawing from and bringing to its knees. Multicolored, synthetic, falsely mimetic, her paintings offer a feminized and ironic take on a macho pictorial tradition that has similarly served as fodder for artists like Sigmar Polke or Martin Kippenberger. Each painting had its own corresponding title poster produced by Das Institut, a collaboration between Brätsch and Adele Röder, and every day a different video made by filmmaker Jane Jo was shown, each a commercial for one of the paintings. The works and their accompaniments reveal a culture at once pop and feminist, with titles that engage in bilingual wordplay (e.g., Dürty Gürl and Heavy Mädel, both 2009).

Brätsch’s “bad painting,” however, has been passed through the filter of electropop. These works are difficult to grasp, going back and forth as they do between the influence of Ger- man Expressionism and that of a more recent New York scene—that of Wade Guyton and Cheyney Thompson, for instance, who have made photocopiers and ink-jet printers their closest allies. This kind of low-tech image production is found in Brätsch’s “wall sculptures,” altered ads for watches, iPhones, and other apparatuses, which are spray-painted before being slid between two sheets of tinted Plexiglas held by large clamps. Proving again that, in Brätsch’s work, painting never claims complete autonomy, the artist exhibits all sorts of printed matter (fanzines, photocopied notebooks, laminated booklets, and the like) that feed into her iconographic repertoire. Brätsch has set the pace of the exhibition itself at the rapid tempo of her studio practice, the daily rearrangement echoing its constant mutations. In one of the videos, amid ’80s graphic effects taken from Brätsch’s paintings, we glimpse the artist herself in her studio, shimmying to an electropop beat, a true emblem of Brätsch’s energetic, polyglot, and resolutely process-driven practice.

Claire Moulène

Translated from French by Jeanine Herman.