Exhibition PDF - Milliken Gallery

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Exhibition PDF - Milliken Gallery
In his work Felix Gmelin researches the past, mainly the late 1960’s, to create artworks that comment on the present. By
making historical comparisons he questions the aestheticization of politics and by that he politicizes aesthetics. While Gmelin’s
work appears skeptical and multilayered, KP Brehmer’s, artwork expresses a deep sympathy for art as an instrument of social
change. Brehmer’s prints and paintings from the 1960’s and 1970’s also politicize aesthetics in a world before
“Globalization”. Both these artists were at a certain point invaded by the politics of their generation and use their formal skills
to reflect and comment on society. Around 30 years stand between the works of these 2 artists that Milliken Gallery will
present at ArtBasel Premiere.
Felix Gmelin works have been shown at the 52 Venice Biennale 2007, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Apexart,
New York and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto. He has had earlier solo exhibitions at Portikus Gallery,
Frankfurt am Main 2005; Malmö Konstmuseum 2004; Milliken, Stockholm 2004 and maccarone inc. 2003, New York. Group
exhibitions include Of Mice and Men, 4th berlin biennial for contemporary art, 2006; Modernautställningen, 2006 Moderna
Museet, Stockholm; Delays and Revolutions, Venice Biennale 2003; Iconoclash, Beyond the Image Wars, ZKM, Karlsruhe 2002.
KP Brehmer was born September 1938 in Berlin and died in Hamburg in December 1997. Exhibitions include EuroPOP,
Kunsthaus Zürich in 2008. Klang im Bild, Opelvillen, Rüsselsheim Weltempfänger - 10 Jahre Galerie der Gegenwart Hamburger
Kunsthalle, Hamburg 2007. Back too DAAD-Galerie, Berlin in 1987, 1977,documenta 6, Kassel (C)1976, Time, René Block
Gallery, New York (C)1972 documenta 5, Kassel (C)1969 Documentary film on actions by J.Beuys, and finally in 1968
"Neodada, Pop, Decollage, KapitalistischerRealismus", Galerie René Block, Berlin Germany
AUDACITY, MORE AUDACITY AND ALWAYS AUDACITY.
-Georges Jacques Denton
FELIX GMELIN AND KP BREHMER AT BASEL ART FAIR, 2008
FELIX GMELIN
Before Pixar was Claymation, memorialized in an American television series starring a humanlike clay figure called Gumby, first
appearing on the Howdy Doody show in 1956. His popularity morphed into The Gumby Show, which ran for 35 years. For a postwar, pre-Viet Nam era American, the most memorable episode of The Gumby Show was ‘Gumby Crosses the Delaware.’ After
Gumby and his sidekick pony Pokey make hamburgers for George Washington’s entire army, Pokey is sent to opposing forces as a
spy, armed only with a Walkie Talkie. The cute talking horse is promptly captured and presented to the general as a mascot. Via
Walkie Talkie, Gumby inadvertently rattles on about Washington’s covert attack plans to the General. Fortunately for Washington,
the enemy doesn’t believe a word. After all, Gumby and Pokey are made of clay.
The sweetness of Gumby and Pokey as characters in a classic war scenario is an education in conflict resolution. The strength of
naiveté is a powerful message in Gmelin’s 2008 work, ‘We’ll meet again.’ An audacious magic act neither serious nor shallow,
Gmelin turns a clump of clay into an atomic bomb--easier to make by children than Gumby. Both the eighteenth-century English
poet Thomas Gray’s enduring quote, “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise,” or the expression popularized in the 1960s by
avatar Meher Baba, “Don’t worry, be happy,” aptly set the sweet and sarcastic tone for Gmelin’s artistic warfare. Don’t worry about
bombs, or the terror du jour; relax in the warm embrace of homeland security—and art! For years, reports on terrorism submitted
by former CIA chief R. James Woolsey and Harvard’s Joseph S. Nye were ignored, as though the warnings came from Gumby and
Pokey, both dumb as clay.
Harry S. Truman’s ‘God gave us the bomb because we believe in democracy’ now sounds like something from Comedy Central, or
as the political comedian Jon Stewart said recently in a Crossfire debate, “the (American) news organizations look to Comedy
Central for its cues on integrity.” Stewart was deadly serious, but in Gmelin’s installation the use of lyrics from Stanley Kubrick’s
1964 film ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb;’ Bo Bergman and Lasse Werner’s 1973
recording ‘How close is socialism;’ and Claude Channes’s contribution to Godard’s 1967 film ‘La chinoise’, a song entitled “Mao,
Mao Mao,” handles ideology as comedy. And comedy born out of cultural desensitization stings nonetheless.
KP BREHMER
Stamp collecting is the most popular hobby in the world and most treasured is a stamp with a mistake. In 1996, 2.27 million U.S.
dollars was paid for a green 1855 Swedish stamp miss-printed in yellow. KP Brehmer’s stamps and choropleth maps use color to
decode political mistakes. Along with the graphic and often didactic appeal of stamps, the famous Vietnamese philatelist Nguyen
Bao Tung describes stamp collecting as “ . . . the channel leading me to master history and the ups and downs of the economy,
politics and events that shaped history of my fatherland.” Nguyen, also commander of the 34th MP-CID (Military Police-Criminal
Investigation Detachment) in Saigon until the fall of the Republic in 1975, may not have come across KP Brehmer’s 1967-68 silkscreened stamps, but would have appreciated their socio-political motifs. Brehmer’s ‘Color Pattern Airblue- Blood Red’ is a stamp
collector’s dream: his 10c U.S. airmail stamp visualizes the mistake of the bloodiest air war in history.
Brehmer was trained as a printmaker in Berlin and Düsseldorf but soon concerned himself with an “anti-bourgeois” art practice
applied to politics struggle like colleagues Joseph Beuys and Hans Haacke. Now filed as Pop Art, Brehmer’s idea of mass-printing
ordinary visual information (like postage stamps, maps and the ubiquitous Campbel's soup can) was his attempt to use the
language of the proletariat to “seize the bourgeois collector . . . by the collar.” This year, the world memorialized the 1968 Tet
Offensive and the subsequent My Lai Massacre. Brehmer’s 1968 silk-screen is of an envelope stamped by the merciless
contradictions of a failed war. The cancellation stamp “Strike back at danger, Give American” is drawn across a postage stamp from
the short-lived Communist-held Democratic Republic of Viet Nam with an image of peasants trapped behind a fence. Appropriately,
the envelope has no sender or receiver address— apparently going nowhere.
Brehmer’s ‘Color Geography 5, Localization of Red/Pink’ attempted to send a blunt message to the bourgeois art collector. Easily
deciphered, Brehmer visualized the massacre at My Lai with flat monochromatic red; Pinkville, the United States codeword for My
Lai, became (duh) pink. While Gmelin cynically suggested that we remember our political mistakes but not worry; Brehmer
broadcasted 100% worry and shame.
As the Basel Art Fair exhibits the work of these two significant German-born artists deeply affected by political events of 1968,
Oliver Stone’s fourth Viet Nam film, ‘Pinkville,’ is in final production. The Viet Nam of 1968 offers educational parallels to the Iraq
of 2008. Forces claiming to “save” South Vietnam inevitably destroyed it, which can be similarly said about Iraq. Vo Nguyen Giap,
(the general responsible for developing the brilliantly unexpected tactics of Tet) often quoted Georges Jacques Danton: “Audacity,
more audacity and always audacity.” To outmaneuver the audacious is an art, if not an act of magic.
--Laurie Haycock Makela, 2008
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
KP Brehmer, Farbmuster Gelbe Gefahr
1969
140 x 120 cm
Silkscreen and acrylic on polyester
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Kp Brehmer, Brief
1968
115 x 180 cm
Silkscreen on polyester
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Kp Brehmer, Farbmuster Klassische Skala
1969
2-teilig, 180 x 240 cm
Silkscreen on polyester
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
KP Brehmer, Korrektur der Nationalfarben
1970
28 x 20 cm
Offset print
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
KP Brehmer, Farbmuster Visualisierung politischer Tendenzen
1970
115 x 200 cm
Silkscreen on polyester
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
KP Brehmer, D - wie "Deutschland"
1972
53 x 43 cm
drawing/collage
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
KP Brehmer, Rede-Enwurf Hitlers
1973/74
220 x 120 cm
Print in edition
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
KP Brehmer, Trend Weltbörsen (Paris- Deutsche Börse)
1976
59,5 x 42 cm
drawing/collage
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
KP Brehmer, Kennzeichnung
1977
59.5 x 42 cm
drawing/collage
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
KP Brehmer, Traffic Accidents by Hours of the Day, Dec 4 1977 in Berlin
1977
79 x 57,5 cm
drawing/collage
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Charlie II
2008
102 x 68 cm
c-print on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Alarm Clock
2008
56 x 74 cm
c-print on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Charlie
2008
56 x 84 cm
c-print on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Easy II
2008
68 x 56 cm
c-print on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Ivy Mike
2008
56 x 56 cm
c-print on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Miss Atomic Bomb
2008
113 x 71 cm
Oil on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Sugar
2008
69 x 69 cm
Oil on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Baker
2008
56 x 74 cm
Oil on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Atomic Bomb Cake
2008
62 x 84 cm
Oil on canvas
Selected images courtesy Milliken, Stockholm
Felix Gmelin, Amerka
2008
60 x 75 cm
Oil on canvas