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“Viva la Robolución!” +Brauer’s upcycled, retro-futuristic luminous.
+Brauer created his first robot sculpture about ten years ago in his Parisian workshop just outside of Paris, located in a neighbourhood with a strong artisanal and industrial past. This sculpture had keys for arms and was housed in a simplistic metal case topped off by an insulator.
Born out of what could be termed a poetic resistance to overconsumption, the artist chooses components for his sculptures that have an industrial past. Having been marked by time and boasting patinas derived from hard use imbues the robots with their very specific character and makes them more visually interesting.
+Brauer’s art form is called upcycling, and it is a remarkable concept that allows materials to be saved, reused, and reclaimed. It also offers machines a second life after their primary uses have expired.
+Brauer’s luminous sculptures invite the curious into remarkable and surprising artistic worlds of what was and what could be. And a reminder that even though something is no longer used as it was intended, that does not mean that it is without value.
Method and process
+Brauer takes old mechanical parts that he finds in abandoned workshops and garages and works them into new forms. He has gathered components for years and has amassed quite a collection comprising objects he has found and some he has bought second-hand or from scrap dealers. Additionally, friends and colleagues also keep a look out for him, occasionally bringing him objects as well. As he told Karmapolitan, “For years I’ve been retrieving, sorting, ordering, and storing parts. It is necessary to go through this in order to be able to create with more freedom.”
At times, the sight of just one item inspires the idea for a new sculpture that pops right into his head, and right from that moment he knows exactly what kind of robot he wants to create and the personality to give it. Robots first begin as sketches on paper; the metal objects then are laid together on the floor to test out their shapes and how the pieces fit together, whether harmoniously or not.
Also during the initial sketching stage +Brauer simultaneously works on the lighting design. Then he outfits the robots with lights that are also created from recycled materials. These are not the easiest of tasks, however the artist has developed methods for each new challenge in order to obtain the hoped-for results. The electrical circuitry is the most complex part, and it is the element that most vividly brings the robot to life. Each robot has its own specifically tailored lighting system.
Once the lighting and electrics are worked out, he cuts windows into the metal and begins the assembly process. It is challenging to assemble metals that were not created to be put together, and each part reveals its own constraints when assembly is underway, which +Brauer completes using techniques such as sawing, cutting, welding, screwing, and burnishing to refine and adapt the components. Sometimes it is here that he sees what might be missing; some sculptures remain in progress for months until he has all the parts he needs to complete them. Each completed robot is a unique piece.
+Brauer – Background
Following his diploma in graphic arts, +Brauer has worked as a graphic artist, painter, and sculptor for more than 20 years. His style has been influenced by his love of science fiction novels, comics, and American series. Specifically, he has admired the wondrous universes of Metropolis by Fritz Lang and the grandeur of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. He also loves outsider art.
His work has been inspired by books, films, and television series that +Brauer loves, but also by the Japanese robots that he has collected for 20 years.
+Brauer showcases his work in the Marais quarter of Paris, a neighbourhood renowned for its creative vibe, as well as various galleries in- and outside of Paris.
2017 Design Days Dubai (Dubai) U.A.E.
2017 M.A.D. Gallery (Dubai) U.A.E.
2016 M.A.D. Gallery (Taipei) Taiwan
2015 M.A.D. Gallery (Geneva) Switzerland
2015 Maison d’Ailleurs (Yverdon les Bains) Switzerland
2014 GO Gallery (Amsterdam) Netherland
2013 Galerie Argentine (Paris) France
+BRAUER’S ARMY OF UNIQUE ROBOT SCULPTURES
When machines were beautiful!
When is an old spanner not an old spanner ? When is a car battery charger not a car battery charger ? When is the lens off the back of a caravan no longer the lens off the back of a caravan ?
The respective answers : when they become the arms of a robot, its angular body or its beating, electronic heart – assuming, of course, you have the magical mind of ‘upcycling’ genius Bruno Lefevre-Brauer.
Known professionally as simply ‘+Brauer’, the Paris-based graphic artist and designer is living, working proof that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure – because he takes the things that many people might consider worthy only of the scrap heap and gives them fresh purpose as the vital parts which bring to life his ever-growing army of unique robot sculptures.
Back in the 1990s, +Brauer began collecting the sort of flashing, winking, walking, clockwork robot toys that first emerged from Japan more than 60 years ago and soon saw the artistic potential in such stiff-limbed, tinplate warriors.
Robots, decided +Brauer, might not have souls – but there was no reason why they shouldn’t have personalities. Nor was there any reason why he shouldn’t be the one to bring them to life. As a result, he began trawling abandoned workshops and garages, rooting through junk shops and flea markets and encouraging friends to look at what they would once have called ‘rubbish’ with a rather more discerning eye. Gradually, the artist built-up a store of strange, unwanted objects which, to most people, might have seemed entirely incompatible. In +Brauer’s fertile mind, however, every insulator he salvaged, every length of wire he rescued, every glass lens he saved from being broken and every nut, bolt, screw or washer he kept from being melted down had the potential to go towards an object that would be very much more than the sum of its parts. +Brauer begins to create a robot when he recognises the makings of a form in a particular combination of bits from his burgeoning store of found items. Next, he takes a blank sheet of paper and sketches possible designs before taking the parts themselves and laying them out loosely on the floor. Sometimes, what he finds before him remains nothing more than a random assemblage of metal boxes, springs, gauges and lights. More often, however, he will see the beginnings of a brand new robot. And, at that stage, he begins to carefully cut, grind, saw, weld, screw and rivet the parts together – and, gradually, his latest creation emerges, often brightly lit from within thanks to the incorporation of electronic circuitry and ingeniously- placed lamps. But while his work is meticulous, +Brauer’s robots are not the pristine, gleaming products of a brave new world. Rather, they wear with pride the chips, scuffs, dents and cracks that their component parts accumulated in their former lives – and are all the more appealing for it.
Should you wish to meet such creations in person, they are on show at MB&F’s M.A.D.Galleries in a selling exhibition of +Brauer’s work entitled ‘Viva La Robolucion’. Some have already found new homes, but others are still hoping to be adopted. None will make your breakfast, tidy your house or walk your dog, but they will certainly make you smile every day.
Even when you’re feeling a bit rubbish...
Written by Simon De Burton
Freelance journalist and author
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