Clean lines on crisp white gallery walls. Minimalism. Wonder. Marshall Brown’s “Remastériser” at Western Exhibitions is arranged within the space and the frame in a very intentional way—in both scale and concept. Reframing architecture—literally and figuratively—the architect, urbanist and futurist presents collages that are informed partly by the history of modern and contemporary architecture and partly by modern and contemporary art. The end result, creating something new entirely: new connections, new associations, new forms, new meanings.
The exhibition breathes new life into Brown’s three collage series, “Prisons of Invention,” “Piranesian Maps of Berlin” and “Forgeries,” created between 2021 and 2023. Combining architectural photography from times past with artwork that has architecture at its axis, “Remastériser” exists between worlds. The lines between art, architecture and design blur. Recontextualization shines on.
Urban landscapes, night skies, blossoming trees, modern art and pop culture elements intertwine in an exhibition that offers new pathways to Brown’s creative process and to collage as an extremely fluid medium. Authorship and appropriation are so closely connected that the viewer is confronted with a question: what makes the art of an artist really theirs? Which is exactly what makes “Remastériser” delightfully intriguing.
The work’s scale invites you in. Some pieces demand a closer approach that allows intricate details to reveal themselves. Others have you fully immersed into Brown’s made-up universe—one that looks extremely familiar (think: Chicago’s familiar corncob buildings) and yet somehow also distinct. A life-size map is pinned onto the inner gallery wall (“Piranesian Map of Berlin, ca. 1800–1690,” 2022) surrounded by smaller, but equally powerful works (“Museum,” 2023, “Factory,” 2023 and “Periphery,” 2023, all collages on Arches watercolor paper). Their green, red and yellow hues add a pop of color to the pitch blacks and grays that portray the urban landscape.
Brown, also a tenured associate professor at the Princeton University School of Architecture, where he directs the Princeton Urban Imagination Center, has been reimagining cities and worlds through his work for decades. “Remastériser” is no different. Looking at the built environment as an ever-evolving setting and embracing its unique complexities, he is always up for a challenge. He knows that the ways we encounter new ideas and experiences matter, so do imagining and reimagining the reality within which we exist. His work serves as a reminder of this very thing.
Marshall Brown’s “Remastériser” is on view at Western Exhibitions, 1709 West Chicago, through June 17.
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