Herbert Brandl was born in 1959, in Graz, Austria. In 1978 he enrolled at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and became a student of Herbert Tasquil and Peter Weibel. From 1985 until 1991 he was a guest lecturer in Vienna and, since 2004, has taught at the Art Academy Düsseldorf.
Brandl’s early paintings were done at the beginning of the 1980s, a time when painting became a vital genre again. However, at the time, Brandl did not focus on the rediscovered possibilities of painterly expression in the context of the movement called »Neue Figuration« / »New Figuration« or »wild« painting – even if, as to their reception and exhibition, his mostly untitled works sometimes do appear in this context. Brandl primarily focused on abstract, canvas-filling color formations. They reveal a special interest in the materiality of color as well as the surface structure of the picture. Although these formations position themselves on the boundaries of the representational, they are closer to conceptual approaches. Brandl proceeded in highly individual ways. He concentrated – also in a dialogue with the painterly tradition of modernism (Blumen / Flowers, 1982/84) and sometimes with a contemporary range of colors – on problems of movement and light (Der heilige Berg / The Holy Mountain, 1982/83). This strategy also led him towards figurative reference (Wasserfall / Waterfall, 1983). The spectrum of painterly approaches or solutions is a broad one. It includes moving, dark, All-Over compositions that remind of informal art such as Pollock’s drippings, as to their gestural structures. Yet Brandl’s range also encompasses more quiet compositions in a lighter color spectrum.
In his works of the 1990s, including smaller formats which he did for a time, aspects of materiality and depth of color gain importance. Yet they do not displace the gestural techniques of scratching and scraping. The color layers now also render the process of emergence more visible and introduce a temporal dimension to the painting (Ohne Titel / Untitled, 1998). More recently, Brandl has turned away from these more abstract color conceptions. However, he still connects to them through his closeness to representational painting, a closeness that often remembers earlier approaches. Since the late 1990s Brand has done landscape pictures, large-format mountain and meadow ground landscapes that shift attention rather to the sujet and the mediation of a mood. These pictures are based on photographs. Yet Brandl has also done huge, serially conceptualized, untitled paintings that appear like abstracting segments of landscape compositions. Despite the figurative reference created also in those recent paintings that show huge mountain panoramas and mountain tops, the landscape pictures still reveal Brandl’s ongoing interest in pure gestural painting, sometimes also done in black-and-white.
Next to the much more well-known paintings and sometimes only loosely connected to this range of work, Brandl has also done a large number of drawings, watercolors, and video works.
Since Brandl’s first solo exhibition in 1984 (Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz), his pictures have been shown in exhibitions focusing on international positions of painting (Paris Biennale, 1985; Kunsthalle Wien, 1993; Museum Haus Esters, Essen 1994; »Painting on the Move,« Kunsthalle Basel, 2002). In 1992 Brandl participated in the Documenta IX, and in 2007 he designed the Austrian pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Herbert Brandl lives and works in Vienna.
Fleck, R.: Herbert Brandl. La Biennale Di Venezia 2007. Ostfildern-Ruit 2007
Schwarze Raucher – Erze und Fauna aus ozeanischen Tiefen: Ausst.-Kat. Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz 2004
Chromophobie, Herbert Brandl – Eine Übersicht: Ausst.-Kat. Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Ostfildern-Ruit 2002