MSB brainstorming

28 October 2013

Nu Popscape, Brandl with Bringolf

From May 30, 2006 originally.


As you may have read in the press release:

"The Project Space Exex Gallery in St. Gallen, Switzerland exhibited artworks by Brandl and Bringolf from May 4th until May 28th, 2006.

Based on the perception that communication and exchange energize, the Project Space Exex in St.Gallen has instituted a series titled "Twogether,“ wherein pairs of artists will be working in cooperation. The first show featured Mark Staff Brandl, from Chicago and now living in eastern Switzerland, and Maya Bringolf, from Schaffhausen and living in Basel. In their exhibition, the artists allow visitors to meander through a landscape peppered with quotations and allusions.

Mark Staff Brandl was born in 1955 near Chicago, where he lived for many years. He has lived primarily in Switzerland since 1988. He studied art, art history, literature and literary theory at the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Columbia Pac. University, and is currently working on a Ph.D. at the University of Zurich.

Brandl is active internationally as an artist since 1980, has won various awards, had many publications and had numerous exhibitions. His shows include galleries and museums in the US, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Egypt, the Caribbean; specific cities include London, Basel, Paris, Moscow, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. As a critic, he is a frequent contributor to London’s The Art Book and is a Contributing Editor for New York’s Art in America.

Maya Bringolf was born 1969 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. She studied art at the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich and the Art Academy in Munich, Germany. She has lived in Basel since 2004. Since receiving her degree in 2001, Bringolf has frequently exhibited in Germany and Switzerland. She spent two six-month, visiting artist residencies in Helsinki, Finland and in Berlin.

The artworks in this show came into being through dialogue and the process of getting acquainted with one another's working methods; pieces were created which are both independent and yet function in the context of a collaborative exhibition. Brandl and Bringolf have seized on and reacted to each other's ideas and suggestions, resulting in acquisitions and integrations in form and content within their individual works. For example, a creepy, glistening octopus-like net by Bringolf turns into a comic character in Brandl's wordless, painterly adventure story. Likewise, Bringolf creates a portrait in silicon of Brandl's swirling, perforated, effervescent comic-hero "Whorl Earl." The artists' motifs mingle and blend. A three-dimensional, pop, spooky fable emerges, through which viewers can move and in which their imaginations are required to assemble the web of allusions."
As this blog has begun in the third-person, I'll keep it up to a certain extent for clarity's sack, referring to Maya by her last name, Bringolf, and to me by my family name as well, strange as that may be.

Here is the entrance panel, a hand-painted sign, by Brandl, with the title of our show.

This is a view from the entrance panel toward the first painting and sculpture visible in the space as one enters.

This is a shot of the Covers Bunch painting by Brandl, serving as a kind of annotation to the show.

This is a shot of a large portion of the exhibition, showing three "webs" by Bringolf and two painting-installations by Brandl.

A view coming in closer to the rear grouping.

This is a very nice image showing the interaction of our two approaches. Brandl, grouping to the left, Bringolf sculpture hanging right foreground.

This is a shot singling out the image of my character "Whorl Earl" who has seemingly fallen asleep after reading all those comics scattered on the floor, Dreaming of Reason, and of spiders who may have spun the webs.

The Whorl Earl painting panel.

The "comic covers" panel, in which for the first time the "Covers" have no actual text, but still utilize the formal structure of comics and techniques of sign painting.

A detail of the text-less Covers Bunch, showing, lower right, a version of Whorl Earl based on one of the silicon paintings Bringolf did of him which were in the show.
Furthermore, upper left is a largely yellow Cover, created as an homage to three friends. Something like a comic co-starring Batman, Superman and Wildcat. The three vertical divisions each contain a comic-like-character of and in the style of three artists who are colleagues and friends. Left is a spy-like three-quarters profile based on Gary Scoles, a comic artist from Peoria, Illinois. Right is a loopy figure based on Hanspeter Hofmann, a painter from Basel, Switzerland and center — ta da — is a mutant shark based on our own Wesley Kimler. Thanks to all three for inspiration in various ways. Watch out Dave, you're next!

Here's a excellent photo from the back of the space toward the front, showing four of Bringolf's hanging web-entities and a tiny section of a silicon wall work in pink to the right.

This is that pink wall work, a portrait of Whorl Earl (my Tornado figure) by Bringolf, which I then re-cited in the textless Covers Bunch work above.

In the rear corner was my main work, a painting-installation, or perhaps installation comic, transforming the corner of the room itself into an open comic magazine. Well, at least metaphorically. One of what I term my "Panels" works. This is an image of me approaching the piece, (an example of sticking the artist in for scale).

The piece features a dialogue in word-balloons which double as the panel drawings themselves. Whorl Earl banters, maybe flirts as one reviewer claimed, with a character based on Bringolf's webs. The dialogue is calculated to be "read" in a large number of ways. I first conceived of the web-woman as cartoon-ghost-like, but she slowly evolved into a more elegant figure, which Bringolf dubbed the "Netznixe." This is a wonderful term translating something like "Net-Naiad" or "Web-Mermaid." The black and white drawing's final panel shows the two flying off and "saying" the entire color image to the right (note the two word balloon "tails" subsuming the whole right-hand side into one large word balloon). We're not in Europe anymore, Toto. Therein, the two fly into a Chicago-like cityscape, blast an explosion and then swoop across one another's paths, assuming a position suggesting a loop back to the beginning. Iconosequentiality and seeing/reading with a passionate tip of the hat to Frank King, Birchler/Hubbard, C Hill, Mathieu Baillif and Gene Colan. Whorl Earl now has a comrade in arms, Netznixe.


A closer image of the same.

Detail of the left "page."

Detail of the right "page."

To divert a bit from the egotism of the above, "Brandl" finds this photograph of a detail of the central web sculpture by Bringolf important. It reveals the marvelous "drawing in space" central to her work, as well as the attraction and repulsion of the almost fetishistic, pop-ish but also creepy associations of the glistening material. bringolf_nupopscape_detail.jpg

And here we are, the two artists. Maya Bringolf , left, Mark Staff Brandl, right.

Two exceptional reviews of the exhibition are on line, both by one of the finest Swiss art critics and art historians, Ursula Badrutt Schoch.

The Kunst-Bulletin (in German and English), the most important Swiss art publication, has a review here.
The St. Galler Tagblatt (only in German until I have time to translate it), a major newspaper, has a review here.

The photographs of our exhibition are by Stefan Rohner. (But (c) 2006 by Brandl and Bringolf.) He is not only the best, and most in-demand, photographer of our region for documentary work, working for almost all the artists, museums and galleries, but is a remarkable artist in his own right. The best word for his powerfully allusive photographic objects and videos is wry. Rohner’s art discloses a quiet, positive wit at work. Check out his website too, here.

Coming soon: An interview with the two directors of the Project Space exex, Matthias Kuhn and Marianne Rinderknecht.

Images and names such as Whorl Earl and Netznixe all (c) and TM 2006 Mark Staff Brandl. All rights reserved. So keep yer mitts off unless you want to publish, exhibit or market them and make us both rich.


As Usual Mark, your work continues to amaze and excite me! In applying your use of arbitrary colors and bold applications, you crystalize all that Fine Arts is and Comics can be!!

You are a master at setting one's heart on fire!

Enjoy your well deserved success!

Warmest Regards,


I have to tell everybody that the above message, and others I have received from Gene Colan, thrill me immensely. In case you don't know who he is, let me expound. Colan is one of the most famous and BEST comic artists of all time. He began as a mere youngster in comic books when they were first created and has continued until today, always improving although he was always amazing. At 80 he is better than ever!

He is famous for many genres and characters, perhaps mostly Daredevil, Dracula, Batman, Dr. Strange, Blade (who he co-created), and other moody-types.

Colan was the first comics artist to be so renowned for the beauty of his original un-inked pencils that experiments were made until (with computers and improved printing) it became possible to reproduce his pencils directly. He produces, in effect, "painting with pencil" as the title of one book about him is titled. Colan also invented many unique artistic devices and sequential techniques.

He is a hero of mine (yes, I am consciously using that "H" word, even without current cultural approval). Check out Tom Field's wonderful book on Colan which was just published, titled Secrets in the Shadows, and check out his website at .

All you curators --- Check out my proposal for a wall work created by Colan, with my technical assistance, at my CAA speech.

Thanks for checking out the blog and the comment Gene!

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