Pablo Bronstein: Wall Pomp

As part of Pallant House Gallery’s contemporary programme Pablo Bronstein has created an original series of wallpapers for the stairwell and downstairs spaces of the Gallery’s Queen Anne townhouse, built in 1712. The wallpapers reflect Bronstein’s appreciation of 18th century architecture and decorative arts and respond to the domesticity of the Grade 1 listed townhouse. Illustrating an intricate architectural landscape featuring ornate mausoleums, the wallpaper will also demonstrate Bronstein’s love for design that is unashamedly ornamental.

Born in 1977 in Argentina, Bronstein grew up in Neasden, north west London, where his self-confessed obsession with architecture originated. In a desire to break free from his childhood’s ‘dreary backdrop’, Bronstein constantly designed imaginary buildings in elaborate detail. His installation at Pallant House Gallery will recall this intricate architectural style and pair it with the traditional interiors of the original townhouse. The completed work will comment on this domesticity and the link between architecture and the people that live within it.

Like much of Bronstein’s work Wall Pomp juxtaposes the antique and the modern; in this case the panoramic wallpapers of the 18th century which depicted fantasy views of exotic places such as Greece, Brazil or China are reinvented using modern techniques. Bronstein’s designs will show an architectural landscape strewn with enormous mausoleums and heavy decorative effects. Each structure is laboriously designed as a fully functioning prototype using 3D modelling technology. To Bronstein it is essential that each structure – from the largest buildings down to the smallest architectural details - are believable from a spatial point of view. It is from these fully fleshed out models that Bronstein creates the final wallpapers using digital print, using the walls of Pallant House as a giant canvas and working around the panelling which both complicates and fragments the design.

Bronstein’s installation at Pallant House Gallery follows a Tate Britain commission for the Duveen Galleries which took place from April to October 2016. Historical Dances in an Antique Setting gave Bronstein’s trademark innovative modern twist on a traditional environment and involved a continuous live dance performance through the rooms of the neo-classical Duveen Galleries. Both installations question our expectations of space and the way we interact with it.

The juxtaposition between the antique and the modern is a theme carried throughout the Gallery's autumn exhibition programme, especially in the major exhibition The Mythic Method: Classicism in British Art 1920-1950, which explores how Modern British artists drew on classical myth and ideals in a ‘return to order' following the First World War. Similarly, a display of prints and multiples by contemporary Scottish artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) reveals how his work engages with themes drawn from classical writers such as Virgil and the French Revolution. Finally, an exhibition of exquisite classical figure drawings and mural studies by the German émigré artist, Hans Feibusch draws from the substantial archive gifted to Pallant House Gallery from Feibusch's London studio. Many of these remarkable drawings have never previously been exhibited.
Pablo Bronstein: Wall Pomp will take place from 22 October until spring 2017 and will be exhibited in the stairwell and downstairs rooms of the Gallery's
townhouse. On 26 January 2017 the artist will be in conversation with Ellis Woodman, Director of the Architecture Foundation and critic for The Telegraph.