Article in The Visual Artworker by Alan Singer, March 30, 2019
Alan Singer reviewed my show, Forces At Play, at the Geisel Gallery, March April 2019, in the March 30 2019 entry of his blog, The Visual Art Worker
Feature review by Rebecca Rafferty in the City Newspaper, Nov. 3 2010
ART REVIEW: Paul Brandwein's "Garden of Desire"
By Rebecca Rafferty on November 3, 2010
Look around: there's genitalia everywhere. No, really. Nature makes good use of the well-designed forms because they're useful, and the architecture of the world is literally rife with those very familiar, blush-inducing forms. Many folk are conditioned to think that if you see penises and vaginae (LOL) in innocent objects, you're suffering from a dirty, perv-y, mind, but you're really just seeing the lusty world for what it is: a place of desire and generation.
Paul Brandwein's sexy and sacred sculptures are the kind of work that draws the viewer in aesthetically and holds them conceptually. His most recent exhibition, up at Gilded Square Picture Framing and Gallery, is entitled "Garden of Desire," and is full of his characteristically colorful, bold, and beautiful ceramic and mixed-media sculptures that smoothly blend the sacred and the so-called profane, and nod to the associated concepts in both.
Brandwein treats the sexual forms as sexual forms, "but there is something deeper to the work than mere arousal," says the artist in his provided statement. He operates with a higher focus on those forms as archetypes, considering and celebrating such universal issues in natural experience as metamorphosis, desire for and fear of union, mystery and the pursuit of it, revelation, and joy. His works resemble hearts, tongues, genitalia, and more, but refer to micro- and macro-cosmic patterns found throughout the physical world.
In his statement, the artist calls this small, 12-piece body of work "a union of disparate elements finding connection," and cites the explosive "One Man Band" as an example of challenging himself to make the elements work together. The piece is an earth-colored and textured ziggurat of stacked squares. The earthen piece is bursting with bright, playful objects resembling tree branches or antlers, tongues, tails, bubbles, clouds, and more, hinting at the capacity for creation present in all of nature. Almost the inverse of this work is "Lower Depths," a three-dimensional square, its interior receding inward toward the wall, each smaller square is slightly cocked to create a spiral staircase effect. Sculpted and painted forms emerge from the center.
"I love form, space, and color with equal intensity," Brandwein says. "The two pieces titled ‘Portal' demonstrate this best. In the past I have called related pieces ‘Yoni,' referring to Hindu images of a cosmic vulva/womb." "Red Portal" and "Blue Portal" are fraternal twin shield-like shapes, glowingly painted with crackling, fiery energy emitting from central objects of a distorted square and an oval.
Deliberately yoni-shaped is "Crucible," where the physical universe is forged. Hot colors on the rippled surface peak toward the center, which drops off into negative space, in which float variously sized spheres. The oval form minimizes at the bottom, and wire trails whip-like to the ground.
Viewers of Brandwein's wall-mounted work will birth a million spiraling associations. The pale, round fullness of the heart-shaped "Ripening" is divided, peach-like, by a central, low slit, which is rimmed in bubblegum pink and lined with little nubs like magnified fruit seeds or taste buds.
In the texture-heavy, rainbow-colored "Overreaching," Brandwein shows off his colorist skills by pairing them just-so to create a subtle glowing effect, which gives way to a darkened crevasse. Below, a heavy, thick tail hangs down, ringed by more objects.
"Fractal Heart" is a tongue-like form, with the lower tip shades lighter than the rest, reaching out slightly toward the viewer, giving the odd feeling of sentience. The texture coating the surface births bubbles, which birth tinier bubbles, and so on into presumed symmetrical infinity, as it goes with fractals.
The work entitled "Bubbling Over" is mounted on a plaque-background with colors to contrast its 3D shape. A crimson-veined heart sprouts wiry vessels capped with bubbles, and a central top cluster of bubbles speaks of visible joy.
Brandwein's 12th work - currently in the window of the shop - is nearly undetectable in the mist of all the color bursting from the walls, due to its absence of hue. "Original Nature" is a small plank of gessoed wood with 20 tiny ceramic mounds mounted in a grid, each heavily textured, but bereft of color. The spirally objects resemble pods and clumps of dirt, raw materials of nature, and as studies, hold the quiet mystery of future works of sensuality, joy, and trepidation.
Detail of “Blue Portal”
WHAM Interview with Bleu Cease about RoCo 6x6x2010
During the following interview, my kinetic piece "Alarming Developments" is shown repeatedly. Toward the end of the interview Bleu demonstrates it by turning it on:
Rebecca Rafferty, The Elephant In The Room -62nd Rochester Finger Lakes Exhibition, July 29, *City Newspaper*
A few of the artists work with the concept of the "other" within human society. On the cell phone tour...Paul Brandwein explains that his ceramic and acrylic painted "Orange Yoni" is a Hindu symbol for the feminine aspect of creation. Much of his work focuses on the vaginal form...The surface is coated with electric colors and lines like crackling energy, with the center like a river of blood rimmed with luminous bright yellow. I'm always impressed with his lady-reverence - with so many objects to worship in this day and age Brandwein is bringing us back to the basics and our origins. The form reminds us of the mixed relationship humans have with feminine sexuality: it's treated as essential and sacred, but also filthy and taboo, and the owners of the magical V have suffered because of this.
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* Rebecca Rafferty, June 10, 2009, *City Newspaper* Deep six, _6x6x2009_
...Paul Brandwein's wonderful pieces were recognizable, and each were snapped up immediately.
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Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, January 19 2009
( Photo of Germination appears in announcement of Heart show at the High Falls Fine Art Gallery, Rochester, NY)
Rebecca Rafferty, Dec. 10, 2008, *City Newspaper*
Rochester Contemporary Members Show:
Paul Brandwein's playful miscellany will not be contained. "Outside the Box" is a mixed media colorful square whose innards recede into space, with bright bits of shape caught here and there creeping outward from the main square.
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