Stephen Bram was born in Melbourne in 1961 and began exhibiting his work in the late 1980s. Over the next few decades, he would be recognized not just for his reinvigoration of abstract painting, but as one of the most accomplished abstract artists in Australia.
Luckily for us Geelong locals, Bram’s work is currently being displayed within the walls of the Geelong Gallery as part of an exhibition that is running until the 22nd of February next year.
Bram’s works are something to behold. As you walk into the exhibition, his monochromatic paintings almost spring off the walls in contrast to the rigid angles of the walls on which they hang. The pieces are both brilliant and challenging to comprehend at the same time.
The black and white works lining the walls are Bram’s way of exploring and testing the concept of illusion. The pieces force the viewer to constantly question their own perspective and awareness of what they are viewing.
As you make your way through the gallery, Bram’s works consistently outdo those that came before them, all the while constantly testing one’s ability to grasp how they are meant to be viewed. After a while they begin to blur and even start to look like their predecessors, but this is seemingly a deliberate choice; upon closer inspection the significant difference between the later works and the preceding pieces becomes apparent.
This speaks to Bram’s skill in crafting illusions and making them an integral part of his works. He does this by structuring his brushwork in a way that almost uses the perception of the viewers against them. It’s hard to describe; it’s almost as if the brains of the people viewing it have to struggle to find a pattern within the works and force themselves to look for familiar patterns while they struggle to comprehend news ones.
As you leave the main room in which Bram’s works are displayed and enter the second room, you are greeted with a different type of Bram’s work; unlike the monochrome, fluid pieces, these are full of colour and even make use of sharp angles. These pieces depict Bram’s interpretation of landscape and architecture, and while these pieces are markedly different than the preceding ones, they are just as captivating.
Bram’s works are simultaneously brilliant and confounding, and I highly recommend that any art lover catch the exhibition before it is gone.
You can see the exhibition at Geelong Gallery up until 23 February 2020. Free entry, open daily 10am to 5pm.
Written by Adrian Aloi