Brand New Gallery is a new space in Milan dedicated to contemporary art, a cross between a gallery and a center for cultural promotion created by two art historians, Chiara Badinella and Fabrizio Affronti. With its 350 square meters (3.776 sq ft), Brand New Gallery is a platform where artists, curators and collectors can meet and exchange ideas, and where the work of foreign artists known internationally but as yet never seen in Italy can be promoted through a program of five exhibitions per year, supplemented by lectures and encounters on contemporary art. Each show will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring images, essays and interviews that together will constitute an ongoing series. The first such exhibition is scheduled for November 2010: a solo show by the German artist Anton Henning featuring twenty paintings, three sculptures, an installation, four videos and eleven drawings.
Painter, sculptor, photographer, filmmaker and musician, Anton Henning (1964) appropriates the history of art by obfuscating the boundaries between its traditional genres. Ignoring every convention, Henning deliberately destroys all rules and standards, intentionally violating pre-established models and expectations of taste. His art is subjective, intuitive, romantically ironic, not easily classifiable in the context of contemporary art. The canons of ordinary esthetic judgment are intelligently subverted so as to provide a new series of values and revive our lost innocence and curiosity. His works seem created to satisfy a hunger for beauty while being fully aware that this desire contributes, ironically, to rendering them banal. Sometimes pushing the boundaries of kitsch and violating every taboo, Henning’s idiosyncratic works seem nevertheless to adapt themselves to the traditional themes they address. Using painting, sculpture, installation and video, Anton Henning combines apparently contradictory elements in a way that each work asserts its own independence while also existing as part of an overarching composition (Gesamtkomposition). His installations juxtapose portraits, nudes, still lifes and landscapes with abstract elements, creating veritable ‘salons’, each one carefully orchestrated for the critical, yet hedonistic contemplation of the individual parts.
Henning’s work addresses familiar themes and styles which tend to underscore the frightening lack of critical perspective with which the art of today is too often hedonistically consumed. The artist, using what Duchamp called “meta-irony”, deliberately chooses to create displacement, because that is how the viewer can free him/herself from moral and aesthetic prejudices and explore sensual pleasure.