A visit to Patrick Brandt‘s studio actually leads you to have coffee and a nice chat in his living room in an East Berlin Altbau apartment. Here, the artist creates most of his enigmatic collages. Based in Berlin since 2010, Brandt spent some time before that in Dresden. The thirty-one year old artist originally comes from Quedlinburg, a small town in the Harz region, where he started his artistic path within the graffiti-scene, from the age of 15 until he turned 20. Brandt has a background in design but when it comes to art, he defines himself as an autodidact. Nevertheless, his work recalls the method and aesthetics of the surrealist movement. He prefers to refer to Dada, which sought to reach the highest freedom of expression, in an attempt to provoke and lead the spectator to reflect on the foundations of society. Brandt’s black and white collages, painted over with lilac, pink, black, white and blue forms, the geometrical figures connecting with pictures of characters of the first half of the 20th century, relates to the aesthetic of artists such as Man Ray or René Magritte, with Brandt bringing it to a more contemporary, or even futuristic realm.

Beyond paper and acrylic, the materials Brandt gathers to produce his work are German newspapers from 1908 to 1950, nearly the same time frame as the surrealist movement, displayed on sheets of paper and assembled in a way that modifies the characteristic of the elements from the newspaper, extracted and assembled in a whole new different way and context. When I asked him why he chose to work with newspapers, he evoked “information” and the way it is broadcasted to larger audiences today. Using old material, he triggers a very contemporary topic. He expresses a form of rejection of today’s mass media society and how information is broadcasted. Newspapers, the artist says, are at the origins of information the way we know it today.

The newspapers he uses are a hundred years old, and thus are history. However, they still bear their ephemeral nature in the sense that they were mirroring what happened on a specific day, while quickly becoming obsolete. In addition to that, collecting them and using them as material for a work of art gives them a timeless component. Those newspaper excerpts, be it characters of the 20’s, 30’s, or a text covered by a black marker that is barely legible – are redefined by the translation they have undergone, now adjacent to contemporary forms. By turning the origins of information into a piece of art, he creates a distance and a new context, bringing the viewer to reflect upon it in a new way, detached from any consideration linked to time and content, which is usually the way we deal with information. Just as pages of newspapers contain articles, report important facts for that time, they now create a fantastic world full of mysteries. The viewer knows nothing about the identities of the characters. They look from another age, outdated. It is that time-lapse, present in most of his pieces that strikes the viewer.

In the series Modified Fragments, black and white portraits or characters are assembled together with geometrical forms, reworked and repainted through a narrow range of colors – lilac, black, white, light blue – propelling them into a futuristic space. In the series White Fields, not only are the figures taken out from the newspaper but the white page also seems to become a character in itself, playing its own role within the artwork. The blank page, with its standardized format, is not only an image carrier or a support anymore, but interacts with the other elements that are given to be seen, spreading not only a feeling of calm and peace but also freedom and loneliness. The characters seem lost in that space and in the same time they create a completely new universe. This strongly contrasts with the influx of information one gets by reading newspapers, and also with the society of information we live in that relentlessly seeks to trigger our attention, provoking constant awareness. By emphasizing and questioning the consequences of mass medias today, Brandt creates a space for freedom and calm within and through his art.

Thereby, entering the artist’s work and discussing it with him necessarily brings you to think about time. Brandt plays with it in a seemingly naive way. But even though he still has questions remaining unanswered about his own work, he manages to manipulate the different component he uses within it in a very clever way, bringing the viewer in a newly defined – or undefined – space, juxtaposing timeframes, intertwining past, present and future, using a highly poetic and delicate vocabulary.

a article by Clara Stein on artconnect berlin, 2014