Some art is louder than others. This can be said even when works are technically silent. Such is the case with the multimedia artwork of Stefan Brüggemann, who was born in Mexico and divides his time between Mexico City and London. He is also in the process of building out a studio in Ibiza and will soon have the three locations as part of his creative trifecta.
Location is important to every artist, but specifically for Brüggemann, whose work is a highly curated and planned reflection of time. Working with various materials, he often relies on words to not only arrive at compositional resolution but also as a means of communicating ideas meant to be questioned. Existential by nature, he uses text that he writes and also appropriates from an assortment of sources. Most of his text-based artworks are inscribed not only in English but also in his own hand. Accepting and entering into the weighty, historically charged dialogue with artists and the written word, Brüggemann dives in head first, giving viewers the opportunity to immediately infiltrate his world through language. He has several series, such as Headlines & Last Lines in the Movies (2010-ongoing), that continue to expand and evolve with every iteration, and his first solo exhibition at New York’s Hauser & Wirth opens this month.
“My work is never finished,” says the artist. “In a way, it is always in a constant state of movement and flexibility.” Scouring the web for breaking news headlines, the artist comments on the moment in which the work is being made, through a fictive narrative composed by elements of truth. Borrowing catchy titles from online media, he also references famous last lines in films ranging from Citizen Kane to The Wolf of Wall Street.
His process is both exploratory and antagonizing. It is an open-ended question inquiring and commenting on how contemporary society is shaped by an abundance of information and film culture, and what we are taught through the cinematographic lens.
On Lawrence Weiner, the grandfather of text-based artworks, he says, “I really like and respect him yet he has a different political view rooted in Marxism and artwork that is not an object. I’m not like that, I’m part of a capitalist generation, whether I like it or not.” Having a lyrical, painterly approach to his text, whether handwritten or made with cut vinyl, Brüggemann strives to generate doubt, observing how humankind behaves without casting judgment. He also avoids any need to prescribe a label to his process and would prefer instead for it to be absorbed slowly over time. Working with minimal―nearly monochromatic―color, his surfaces range from highly polished steel to mirrors and often gallery walls. “The idea that I use my own hand and spray-paint is a way to emulate the internal voice and what could be screaming,” says Brüggemann. “It’s as if the text has sound.” In the future, the work will still be able to be made with a set of particular instructions, in the vein of Sol LeWitt, but with a Mexican accent and a lot more spunk.