Gottfried Bräunling

*1947 in Radebeul (Saxony), Germany

One of the central Dresden artists of divided Germany

Gottfried Bräunling is one of the central figures of the Dresden group of painters around Ralf Winkler alias A.R. Penck in the 1970s. His multifaceted oeuvre includes drawings, silkscreens, etchings and paintings as well as three-dimensional works in wood, bronze and iron. Gottfried Bräunling’s painterly, graphic and sculptural work was mostly formed in the interplay of “separation” and “encounter”. Behind this lies the artist’s deep need for harmony. Separation in order to escape disharmony; encounter in order to overcome disharmony in oneself and loneliness.

Gottfried Bräunling and Penck shared a lifelong friendship and a similar fate – both were classified as politically uncomfortable and were ultimately forcibly expatriated to the West because of their system-critical painting. This friendship and collaboration manifested itself in many joint works and projects dealing with questions of artistic freedom without compromise, exhibition bans and political discourse.

Biography

After his studies at the HfBK Dresden (graphics and painting), Bräunling became friends with the painters E. von der Erde, Ralf Winkler alias A.R. Penck and Wolfgang Opitz and was partly a member of the artists’ group “Lücke”. From the mid-1970s, Bräunling was one of the intellectuals who had accepted and supported the society of real existing socialism as an experiment, but from then on slowly began to come into conflict with the state, which made any kind of “identification” with it impossible. As a result, Bräunling was curtailed by the GDR functionaries and denied admission to the Artists’ Association, which meant that he was neither allowed to exhibit nor sell his work.

During these years, he produced many relevant works critical of the system, which ultimately led to his flight to West Berlin in 1987: “I had to become more critical. And the more I thought about it, the more problems arose. Again and again. If you opened your mouth and named your problem, you had to take a stand, right up front. And that’s where it could become “deadly” under certain circumstances…”

Ralf Winkler was expatriated in 1980 and Gottfried Bräunling took him to the border crossing. Until his own expatriation in 1987, they remained in contact by post, meeting and socializing in Prague, and were reunited in the West. After his arrival in West Berlin, he was warmly welcomed by Penck. Bräunling founded Edition GB and produced bibliophile artists’ books with Jannis Ritsos, Asteris and Ina Kutulas, A.R. Penck, Mikis Theodorakis, Odisseas Elytis and Giorgos Seferis. Greek mythology became the focus of his work.

For a while, Bräunling lived in A.R. Penck’s artist community in Heimbach in the Eifel. From around 1990, with Penck’s help, Bräunling set up a screen-printing workshop and a steel-cutting studio in the southern Palatinate village of Relsberg, combining his home, studio and workshops in an old farmhouse. In addition to his own works, many prints and works by A.R. Penck were created here.

Gottfried Bräunling has traveled to work in Ireland, Cyprus, Greece and Thailand and has shown his paintings in numerous exhibitions in Germany and abroad, including Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Geneva, Paris, Athens and New York.

The artist was so impressed by his stay in China that he set up another studio and home in Zhongshan.

In 2018, his paintings were on display at the Museum of Art in Zhongshan, China, followed by two further exhibitions in Chinese museums.

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