KP Brehmer (1938–97) found new ways to visualise global capitalism which are of increasing relevance today. In collaboration with his Estate, this exhibition presents drawings, prints, paintings, films, objects and publications, many of which have never been exhibited before. This is the first solo exhibition of Brehmer's work in the UK.
The earliest works in this exhibition are associated with Capitalist Realism, often conflated with Pop Art, which artists including Brehmer, Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter developed through René Block's gallery in Berlin between 1964 and 1971.
From West Berlin, Brehmer confronted the visual regimes of the Cold War, interpreting the city's double life of socialism and capitalism. Using common information systems as templates – figures and charts from educational books and magazines, maps of racism and fascism and graphics from sociological studies – he linked data-management to the operations of capitalism, and anticipated much of the effects of its globalisation familiar today. In sympathy with (though not a member of) the Deutsche Kommunistische Partei when it was banned in West Germany, he authored his work using the initials of his first names, Klaus Peter.
Brehmer sought ways to mass distribute his work, using his early training in graphics and printmaking to address the commodification of art. He also co-founded the co-operative gallery Vorsetzen in Hamburg, where he taught at the Art Academy until his death in 1997.
The exhibition is curated by Doreen Mende. A fully illustrated publication, the first in English on the artist, with texts by Jürgen Becker, René Block, KP Brehmer, Mark Fisher, Doreen Mende and Kerstin Stakemeier, will follow this exhibition.
Rohstoffpreise für Gold Monats-Höchst und Tiefstkurse Index Juli 78 [Raw Material Prices for Gold Monthly High and Lowest Share Prices July 1978 Index], 1980
Gold lacquer, pencil, collage on graph paper
59.5 x 42 cm
Courtesy the Estate of KP Brehmer, Berlin