Malte Bruns‘ artworks exemplify the paradox of abstract art, simultaneously highlighting its cerebral intangibility and the undeniable materiality through his sculptures. Unlike traditional sculptures from natural materials, Malte Bruns’ sculptures testify to a new environment for the human body. Malte synthesises the paradigm of classical art to its core element; its ideology of beauty is detached, studied and overturned by the artist. The classical canon of perfection remains elusive as Malte’s sculptures portray the raw vulnerability of being human.
Recently part of the Turin exhibition “Uno Nessuno Centomila“, Malte Bruns brought his sculptures to the forefront, which almost acted as characters or visitors of the show itself. It is within the spaces of the Palazzo Capris that, indeed, the sculptures found a stage of the surreal, as the curation saw surrealism become a new plane of reality; it became alive, and Malte’s sculptures brimmed with individuality.
Deceiving and yet honest, the sculptures sway between realism and surrealism. Visitors take a double-take to the green foot and suspiciously glance at the yellow mass atop it: undeniably human and yet stirring towards surrealism. Viewers may wonder: where do they come from?
Citizens of the abstract, the sculptures look anthropomorphic just enough to belong to humankind, but not sufficiently to be human. If Adam was born from earth and clay, Malte’s sculptures find their genesis from plastic filaments extruded from the nozzle of a 3D printing machine. Within his oeuvre, a few sculptures see a more significant intervention of the artist. Malte is known for his active participation in sculpture-making; he casts parts of his body to generate limbs to assemble his sculptures, further creating layers to explore. As the artist becomes part of the artwork, the sculptures conserve the fine detail of a human body while being utterly othered with unnatural colours.
Harnessing modern technologies, Malte addresses the inventiveness and spirit of progress in a growingly industrial environment. By operating machines as well as his own body, Bruns carves a place for a conversation of realism and surrealism; akin to the bonds of water and oil, the two coexist on the same axis that Malte created for them. Heavily detailed but still evanescent, the sculptures are beings part-human and part-abstract; recognisable, but impossible to grasp and to remember with detailed accuracy. The artworks see creatures seemingly birthed from what one would imagine being a genetic engineering laboratory rather than an artist studio.
The idea of mutation makes a pivotal point of discussion for Malte, who looks at waste, the pollution it causes, and how it affects nature. Alien-like, the sculptures occupy an artificial ecosystem. The unidentifiable mass atop burdens them with the constant reminder of who they are, what they could nearly be.
It’s in their rawness and puzzling state that Malte describes the anxieties of a modern society toying with biology, seeking to unlock the secrets of physiology, relentlessly aiming to the betterment of the self. The relentless unravelling of what makes bodies fallible, what makes them imperfect, can only unveil the last, unsurmountable burden: mortality.
In Malte’s art, the desperation to chase immortality translates to the grotesque, a, perhaps fateful implication of eagerness, of a longing that can never be satisfied. The result is incidental; it sways from the standards of aesthetics, it drastically becomes othered. The figure grows misshapen, translucid liquids leak and drip in abandon. Showing their industrial qualities, they are beacons of repetition; the machine aligns with the societal systems that engrain beliefs, regurgitating the standards and forcing it generation upon generation.
As the 3D printing machine shapes the figure, the body becomes unequivocally a programmable site, blessed by the predictability of technology. As Malte explores the possibilities of shape and form, endless combinations splay themselves to the machine. “How far can this go?”, he may have wondered before the sculptures. “How far can this go?” we ponder before the latest unconventional anti-ageing trends.
Godly perfection, infallible health, universal beauty – they are nothing but lines leading to the epilogue of a society refusing the lack of control of the body. Malte’s reflects on this finishing line with his misshaped sculptures, and the viewer can eventually see that the desperate attempt to immortality is what makes those beings human.
“Something went wrong,” Malte said, “but they’re good guys.”