Pablo Bronstein is back. He’s doing what he does best. This time he is reimagining baroque London.
London in its Original Splendour depicts a city, part woodcut and part futuristic architectural blueprint. The impersonal 3D shapes reveal traces of Pablo’s exquisite penmanship, just as the urns and columns carry on his interest in recherché architecture.
The cityscape is printed on 3D-rendered wallpaper, which is similar to wallpaper used in the 18th century. It uses tromp l’oeil style techniques to create an expansive view. The tension between flatness and full bodied plump is unnerving.
Pablo has been interested in this throughout much of his career and even before. When he was young his bedroom was painted in a high rococo style.
A mix of styles inspired by London’s rococo Age of Wren and Soane-style architecture, London in its Original Splendour references bits of various buildings around London like the Bank of England and St Paul’s Cathedral. Stepping outside the gallery, you are in the middle of some of London’s finest architecture. On the left you can see St Pauls, on the right the Bank and just in front of you is No 1 Poultry. This is the London vernacular.
Yet Pablo adds something more. He tells us the stories that bricks and corniche work tell us obliquely.
London in its Original Splendour is a classical city par excellence.
The gallery stands above the remains of the London Mithraeum but here the city’s classical temple is anything but the male space of the Mithraeum.
This city is presided over by a goddess who holds in her hand a dramatic mask and what could be the rudder of a ship, just as Isis Tyche who was patron goddess of Alexandria; or is it a club she carries and is this powerful goddess Hippolyta? Pablo teases with his playful but highly informed understanding of classical art.
Figures of powerful women or goddess are everywhere. You can spot similar figures on buildings around London but in London in its Original Splendour they are given prominence and prestige and power.
London is sometimes called a male city as Paris is called a female city. The stone tassels and curves on the columns make this is a very sensuous city like Paris, but the goddess statues remind us that woman are the power here.
Many classical cities, such as Athens could be male spaces, just like many 18th and 19th cities, even as they worshipped female deities. But this is London in its Original Splendour. Here the splendid city is devoid of inhabitants but it remains a radically gendered space.
A must see show. Go today.