The online editorial and curatorial project for systems, non-
Roland Brener: ‘Using Particular Space’ (1969)
With an introduction by Sam Cornish (2015)
©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock All rights reserved.
In the summer of 1967 Roland Brener (1942-
Brener was a favoured pupil of Caro, though their relationship was not without its
difficulties. The work he made at the Depot can be seen to marry the openness and
spatial extension of Caro’s sculpture with some of the diverse tendencies which were
challenging Caro’s dominance within St Martin’s and the wider British art scene.
Brener’s sculpture became temporary, site-
Roland Brener, Deep Space Installation, 1970, re-
‘Stockwell Depot 1967-
‘Stockwell Depot 1967-
Roland Brener: Statement, 1969
Roland Brener, Deep Space Installation, 1970. Installation view, Stockwell Depot: Eight English Sculptors from London, Konsthallen, Gothenburg, 1970. Photo: Roland Brener. © 2015 Roland Brener. All rights reserved.
I was genuinely surprised and slightly embarrassed when visitors from the British Council showed concern over my lack of interest in preserving my own work. My attitude is not specifically destructive – rather call it disrespectful. My sculptures fail to impress me by their existence. Their material being does not merit preservation. Qualitatively I rate them as high as most other art I’ve seen, but my attitude towards all possessions and objects is basically one of indifference. I wouldn’t express this as an ideological stance but as a personal characteristic. My ego finds security in an optimistic belief in my creative potential and not in the work already made. All the sculpture I have so far produced seems to be an inadequate manifestation of that potential. I cannot believe that this is merely lack of maturity as an artist – there is no reason why this attitude should change, unless as one ages one’s creativity diminishes, in which case I may have to find a substitute security in the work itself. Anyway, the work itself lacks a permanent or absolute quality. It always seems to me to imply the possibility of further modification, arrangement or refinement. Its finite state is not sacrosanct.
Roland Brener, Bow Sculpture, 1968. Installation view, Stockwell Depot: Sculpture Exhibition, Stockwell Depot, London, 1968. © 2015 Roland Brener. All rights reserved.
It exists symbolically as fragments of a universal language of structures which is
comprehensible only in a physical-
Now, I make a lot of sculpture but could not really be called prolific because if you asked me to gather together five completed works I couldn’t do it. Some of my sculptures take weeks before the basic structure emerges, more often they take one or two days. But as each sculpture is more or less a criticism of the previous one, each piece is in turn cannibalised or discarded. So there is a positive continuity, which is not to say there is progress.
Roland Brener, Tubular Sculpture #1, 1969. Installation view, Stockwell Depot, London, 1969. Photo: Ray Sacks. © 2015 Roland Brener. All rights reserved.
Obviously, my work, like anyone else’s, can be identified. However, I think that in my case it is identifiable by its underlying philosophy rather than a stylistic idiom. The processes to which I submit material are governed by structured thought, and the ‘finished’ configuration is merely that point in time at which I decide to suspend the process. I find it possible to work in more than one convention without deviating from my basic premises. (Actually I think that Caro’s weakness is his lack of flexibility. The range of his abilities is narrow and the effect of seeing his work en masse at the Hayward is rather less impressive than each individual work. Ultimately this lack of scope is what makes him rather less than a great or even really good sculptor. David Smith could improvise freely with conviction but Caro can only improvise on a basic theme and the repetitiousness becomes tedious). Sculpturally, I’ve had no real problems in relating to Caro or the New Generation except in the matter of colour. That is to say, I’ve assimilated a certain amount of particular elements of people’s work but think that my vision is a highly personal one and doesn’t readily fit into a historical continuum. This is partly to do with my lack of formal training (only two years all in all) and partly a result of an inherent scepticism.
In the past I’ve most certainly used colour insensitively. I think I’m over that now, but for a long time I accepted the garish and playful idiom of the New Generation and Caro. Most of my work used to look better unfinished than painted. Actually the only sculpture I have ever seen which I consider to carry colour with absolute success is Roelof [Louw]’s.
Roland Brener, Sculpture with Four Arches, 1968. Installation view, Stockwell Depot: Sculpture Exhibition, Stockwell Depot, London, 1968. © 2015 Roland Brener. All rights reserved.
About environment: I feel confident only about using particular space. Not all my
work is meant to relate to a specific space, but that which does I can visualise
only in terms of the space with which I am familiar, i.e. the room I work in. Now
that room I feel on particularly good terms with. The low-