Encyclo-Dimensional (revised) is a book, a set of 100 drawings and a painting (a triptych) – all by Mark Braunias. It tells you everything you want to know and more. It is a visual encyclopaedia with attitude. And it grows on you. (In fact the painting literally sprouts in places.) But first, take a deep breath and focus. For more is more here, and there’s a lot to digest.
Encyclo-Dimensional is Braunias in full voice. Seeds were sown in a suite of drawings presented as a periodic table shown at JSG in 2009, called A Message from Planet Zonked. Lines drawn with Biro and all manner of marker pens announced figures on the brink of either epiphany or dissolution. It was a full range of humanity described with disturbing verve and clarity. Typed text below added further deadpan humour.
Encyclo-Dimensional parades all the same elements, and more. The layering of form, the confidence of the mark-making, the written commentary – all are not just molecular, but atomic. Look at the coloured spheres in the painting – it’s in orbit. But all in a shallow space, which could be that of analytic cubism.
What also impresses in this exhibition is how Braunias has engaged directly with the wall. He journeyed south from Kawhia with a roll of big paper works – some complete, some not. Stapled side by side to the wall, they become frieze-like around the space. Some are dominated by large figures, slack and almost out of puff, whilst others brim with smaller morphs full of bounce and playful exuberance.
But in the back gallery, Braunias set about a new work, The Twelve Apostles. They look right to left, all the same way, this unlikely dozen. Shaped, cut-in and contoured in black – the first five are the colour of the industrial grade paper from which they emerge – brown, blue-grey or pink. The final seven are the house-white of the wall, defined by Braunias’s assured black brush – which is often laden, but at other times trailed until spent. The play of figure and ground becomes crisper and cleaner as one transitions (from wall paper to wall work) around the room. The combination of expressive mark-making and controlled sinuous contour, of dense field with a lightness of touch, is utterly invigorating. The whole room is inspiring. Mark Braunias has really raised the bar.
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.