CHRIS BRANDSTETTER

Showing an unerring eye for the magic and spectacle of cast-offs and by-products in urban settings, Chris Brandstetter’s suite of four elaborate images can be grouped by their social history or spiritual affinity, a symphonic or narrative attribution, and various other traditional or archetypal groupings: earth, air, water, and fire, perhaps. But it’s attention to the images themselves, without any well-intended baggage, that yields the genuine reward.

 

Rust, itself a proxy for fire, blankets two ancient doors surrounded by graffiti and distorted industrial forms. In another image, a magnified transparent rosary cross hangs from a wire fence against a blurred industrial backdrop. Other images suggest a deep, useless-looking hole in the ground yielding to a stained white wall, rebar here and there, and extensive graffiti in the classic freight car style. A final image, a giant puddle forming a partial mirror image, displays a large field of graffiti reflected incongruously in the puddle and calls to memory the fractured, broken-up picture of the picture plane in cubism. In the middle of all this, and in bright red, reads the graffito “meow”.

 

All of Brandstetter’s images are pervaded by an underlying stillness that exists to give the subject matter a pedestal and in no way detracts from the liveliness of the outcome.  For the sumptuous details, the intricacies of shape and color, go well beyond the limitations subjects would normally impose. Although taken in unremarkable industrial settings, the subjects show the self-sufficiency of having been chosen, not merely assembled or picked at random.   Brandstetter’s work is likewise not the result of calculation or photoshopping. His photographs show things as they are, and we see them as few things are.

 

At a time so focused on politics, it is a great benefit to see with more clarity. Brandstetter’s work does not intervene in stock market reports or argue about the best forms of government. In fields of concrete and rubble where nothing grows, there are always lilies in the field. 

Jim Lee

Curator / Artist / Critic

REVIEW BY B. HANSON

Loved this exhibit! These pictures are profound on so many levels. Some have more than one picture. Where you are led further inside to another image, either because of the light beyond an opening, or by the shapes that frame an opening. Or even by a reflection of the image in water, revealing another view of the same picture. I'm also struck by the contrast of things that "shouldn't be" but are. Like walls that are breached (something solid and permanent that yet is not). Or floors that are breached and lying open. The opposite of what a floor or wall should be. And I love the pure contrast in some pictures. Like the Packard Plant broken windows, all destroyed and brutalized but with lacy delicate plants growing around it.

 

The photos are profound in another way. They have a respectful quality that capture the almost religious feeling that these types of ruins evoke. These giant factories and infrastructure were in a way temples of industry and commerce. A place where tens and hundreds of thousands of people built things and earned a livelihood over many years. The Packard photos especially, and the railroad tunnels, give off a feeling of huge robustness mixed with their sadness. Turns one's thoughts to, in a larger sense, what happens to a civilization when it decays over time. Asks us whether everything regenerates (or at least whether everything transforms into another use. Like the solid brick factory spaces transforming to graffiti art).

One more note. I think this type of subject matter is often most revealing in black and white, to see textures like brick and stone. But you changed my mind. Your wonderful use of color reveals more in these pictures than black and white could. Thank you for bringing them!

Rusted Doors

Rusted Doors

March 2018 Picture Size: 16 x 20 Vertical Frame Size: H 28.5 x W 20 5/8

Crucifix Necklace

Crucifix Necklace

April 2017 Picture Size - 16 x 20 Vertical Frame Size - H 28.5 x W 20 5/8

Puddle Reflection

Puddle Reflection

March 2018 Picture Size - 16 x 20 Horizontal Frame Size - W 28.5 x 20 5/8

Burned Out Staircase

Burned Out Staircase

March 2018 Picture Size - 16 x 20 Vertical Frame Size - H 28.5 x W 20 5/8

Broken Windows

Broken Windows

March 2018 Picture Size - 16 x 20 Vertical Frame Size - H 28.5 x W 20 5/8

Window View

Window View

March 2018 Picture Size - 16 x 20 Horizontal Frame Size - W 28.5 x H 20 5/8

Hole in the Floor

Hole in the Floor

March 2018 Picture Size - 16 x 20 Horizontal Frame Size - W 28.5 x H 20 5/8

BRANNER SPANGENBERG GALLERY      

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