Rise of the Robots: Interview With Artist +Brauer

+Brauer: “The robot, as it is manufactured in our modern world, is a rather cold, technological machine. In response, I create robots as poetic ‘beings’.”

MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser talks to the artist +Brauer about his unique robot sculptures and their relationship to our industrial past.

Parisian artist Bruno Lefèvre-Brauer, aka +Brauer, takes old mechanical parts and up-cycles them into retro-futuristic luminous robots. Inspired by his love for Japanese robots and taking a poetic stance against overconsumption, each component of his sculptures has an industrial past.

Here, in conversation with Maximilian Büsser, he shares more about how his life and experiences have given birth to his latest exhibition, ‘Viva la Robolución!’, which comprises 14 unique robot sculptures.

How would you describe your work and your sources of inspiration?
After getting a degree in plastic and graphic arts, I devoted much of my time to pursuing artistic activities such as painting and sculpture, all this while working as a graphic designer. I have many sources of inspiration. I appreciate the atmosphere of Bauhaus, constructivism, industrial architecture but also those of Méliès, Jules Verne, Tinguely’s machines and science fiction: its utopias and extraordinary journeys. I am also a great admirer of outsider art.

What motivated you to create the ‘Viva la Robolución!’ collection?
Industrial materials have always attracted me; they have always inspired me. I’ve always associated light with my creations. I started by creating lamps out of used metal. These lamps eventually took the shape of robots.

In the beginning, they were rather simple ones. The first one, for instance, was made out of a simple metal case to which I added two keys as arms and an electrical insulator for the head. The second one was more elaborate. Each one is telling me its own story. This is how many new robots came along and I started expanding this family. Each one has its own personality and name. Like Geppetto, I like to see the personalities of each new piece as they arise. I keep my soul young by making my own toys.

I’ve never considered removing the lighting from the lamps that I use to create the robots. Indeed, I consider the lighting to be the soul of each robot. Each sculpture looks different whether the light is on or off. The metal and light are inseparable for me.

In our modern world, the robot is serialised from new materials, I wanted to create ‘Viva la Robolución!’ as a series of unique robots and all made from previously used materials. If each piece is different, all these robots put together create a unit, a ‘family’, a peaceful army that fights against obsolescence. The idea is to show that we can reuse objects rather than throwing them away — reuse, recycle. This is my poetic resistance to overconsumption.

What inspires you while making these sculptures?
I’m attracted to old industrial materials. When they are seen, ideas of how to shape and highlight their qualities come to mind. The beauty of these components touches me and I work on them in order to let the light reveal their soul. I carefully select vintage components that have an industrial past. Having been marked by time and boasting patinas derived from hard use imbues the robots with their very specific character and makes them more visually interesting.

I admire the beauty, sometimes hidden, of these abandoned parts, I change their appearance, sculpt them and add light before assembling them to create a unique and poetic work.

How do you cope with people not understanding or appreciating your work?
No work is meant to be appreciated and understood by everyone. This is what gives it its charm; we are all different in the way we receive it. Although, in my case, I perhaps face it a little less as my robots often inspire sympathy. But I sometimes also meet people who do not like or are not touched by my style. I don’t have a problem with it, as long as they can still see the work and appreciate the know-how behind it.

Is your work a commentary on the relationship between man and technology?
Yes. The robot, as it is manufactured in our modern world, is a rather cold, technological machine. In response, I create robots as poetic ‘beings’. This is not the technological aspect that I’m looking for, but the original, raw, almost primitive shape of the robot.

+Brauer’s ‘Viva la Robolución!’ collection is available at the MB&F M.A.D. Gallery, Rue Verdaine 11, 1204 Geneva, Switzerland.


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