Sascha Braunig speaks with fellow artist Aaron Gilbert on transformative acts of the body, and the transformative act of painting.
Braunig’s paintings of hybrid figures exist in a shifting ground between portraiture and invention; painted in an ostensibly realist style, their fantastic coloration and augmented bodies suggest a parallel realm. These beings, though artificial, carry a unique personal and social charge.
Aaron Gilbert I fluctuate between seeing the subjects as being mutilated or as being adorned.
Sascha Braunig I have impulses towards doing both, and I think that they’re pretty related. I think that fashion and art have always mutilated the figure. I’m both attracted to and involved in that history, but also commenting on it.
AG You say mutilation and adornment are pretty related, could you expand on that?
SB Maybe I wouldn’t use the word mutilated. But adorning the body is fashion, and fashion often uses death-like imagery in its treatment of the body. And of course figurative art is very decorative, but it has treated the body, especially the female body, pretty badly over the years.
AG Any specific moment that stands out in your mind, in that regard?
SB In art, literature, and fashion the female body is perpetually abstracted, reduced, distorted, or compared with inanimate objects. From Baudelaire to Picasso, to Otto Dix, to any kind of fashion photo. I immediately think of Hans Bellmer as an artist who is almost pathologically or sadistically distorting the female body.