The Brutal Play: Raw and Refined

© Daniele Reiber
Onze score

For “The Brutal Play”, Fondation CAB is exhibiting work by constructivist pioneers, minimalist masters, and a series of contemporary sculptors. Brutally playful and intrusively inspired.

Brutalism was an attempt to create an architectural ethic, rather than an aesthetic. It had less to do with materials and more to do with honesty: an uncompromising desire to tell it like it is, architecturally speaking,” The New York Times wrote in 2016 in a piece entitled “Brutalism Is Back”.

This is the impertinence that also permeates “The Brutal Play”, the group show curated by Matthieu Poirier, in which the non-profit space Fondation CAB is offering us a glimpse into the inspiration of raw materials through a fine selection of sculptural works from the constructivist era, 1960s minimalism, and the present day.


There are works by masters such as Alexander Rodchenko, with recent replicas of a number of his intriguing form variations from the sculpture series Spatial Construction from the 1920s. Or the Square Tubes [Series D] in galvanized sheet steel by Charlotte Posenenske from 1967. There are wooden sculptures by Carl Andre and Robert Morris, which depict heaviness and lightness respectively, bodily presence and the flight of dance.

Body and Soul

This presence is palpable throughout the exhibition, from the moment you squeeze past the enormous, unmanageable sculpture in reinforced steel by Karsten Födinger. “The Brutal Play” is comprised of works that do not hide themselves away, show themselves completely. But the exhibition wears this impertinent heart on a very refined sleeve.

For example, Kilian Rüthemann impresses with two violent cracks that have appeared in two opposite walls. Sculpture as the act of removal. This is a brutal play, a raw presence that was composed meticulously, with scars across the space that act as flight lines for your eyes.

This same violent act also lies at the origin of the work of Émilie Ding, who burns the pattern of a double T, like a construction profile, in a felt cloth. Kilian Rüthemann is also showing a sarcophagus, which he cut out of polyurethane foam. Outside, the solid-looking block is affected by weather conditions. It stores memories, life.


Nothing exists as a pure idea. Everything interacts, is formed, lives. It is precisely this idea that is submerged in the imposing concrete sculpture by Ramon Feller, who presents an upside-down V on the floor that is pulled upwards towards the wall by an engine for the duration of the exhibition. It is work that is perpetually becoming, which is alive, and which is nevertheless about to disappear. Very slowly.

Each space is also a time, each time represents an experience, and “The Brutal Play” is simply bursting with experiences. Raw experiences that connect the viewers with their own presence – in these times of virtual disembodiment –, the attachment to a body, as a vessel for a soul. And these sculptures have plenty of soul.

... but honest

Some of them pack a stunningly beautiful punch, sometimes of brutal intransigence, scarred, or playfully enriching conditions, but always fully immersed in life and transience.

These are concepts that have become bodies, ideas that have adopted flesh. Brutal but honest.

> The Brutal Play. Fondation CAB. > 26/5

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