What would the Dutch flag look like if the three colours were divided on the basis of wealth in the country? In 1972 German artist KP Brehmer reworked the German flag in this way, highlighting the unequal distribution of wealth in West Germany. The flag will be one of the iconic works on display in KP Brehmer: Real Art – Fake News at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, the artist’s first ever retrospective in the Netherlands.
With his politically tinted work KP Brehmer was an important representative of the ‘capitalist-realist style’ in the mid-1960s, along with artists Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Wolf Vostell. The movement bore a resemblance to pop art.
The work of KP Brehmer (1938-1997) includes paintings, prints, drawings and films that resemble diagrams, infographics, abstract art or advertising posters. There is an irony in his visual idiom which comments on the art world, the media landscape and society. This was the artist’s way of making the viewer aware of the influence of images, statistics and other ‘scientific sources’. He was convinced that a deliberate intention lay behind every image. More than twenty years after his death, his observations are surprisingly relevant in today’s world.
Brehmer was born in Berlin, trained as a printer and studied graphic art. In 1971 he became a professor at the Hochshule für Bildende Kunst (Art Academy) in Hamburg, and in 1987 and 1988 he was guest lecturer at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. The exhibition in The Hague has been put together in collaboration with the Neues Museum in Nuremberg, the Hamburger Kunsthalle and Arter Istanbul, and it clearly shows how Brehmer’s work brims with serious social criticism, alongside his cheerful irony and humour. With his creative spirit and powerful imagination, he unmasked images and ideas, and his themes touch upon those of today.
A catalogue in German, English and Turkish will accompany the exhibition. Published by Koenig Books London, 2018, it costs €29.