*1968 in Karl-Marx-Stadt, DE
lives and works in Leipzig
Sven Braun draws passe-partouts that are not passe-partouts. He causes stretcher frames to shine through canvases as if they were transparent. The Leipzig-based painter plays a subtle game with trompe l’oeil—that is, with the artistic mastery that causes us to confuse essence and appearance or rather to take the one for the other. And yet it would not do Sven Braun justice simply to accuse him of premeditated deception.
Unlike the Greek painter Zeuxis, who some 2,500 years ago painted grapes on a mural so deceptively real that birds tried to peck at them, Sven Braun is not so much interested in a trompe l’oeil of motifs. Rather, the visible connection between essence and appearance is merely a kind of backdrop against which the artist is constantly renegotiating the parameters for creating art. These include the concept of the work as well as authorship, habits of seeing and other forms of conditioning, and categories from the theory and history of art. His works cannot simply be taken literally, as is demonstrated by titles such as Schild (Shield), whose meanings in German range from protective armor by way of Dutchfijnschilderei, or “fine painting,” to the modern information board. These cascades lend an almost conceptual quality to the relation of essence and appearance, signifier and signified.