Smile Broadly, Change the World

Last night, the Claire Oliver Gallery opened Norbert Brunner’s new show, Smiling Broadly to the delight of many. Indeed, the show is about delight in every facet imaginable. The predominant theme is about uplifting messages, self-affirming at minimum and world-changing at best. The messages, ranging from “don’t wait, start now” to the ever timeless “imagine” are all written out in Swarovski crystals, placed on three separate layers of glass and spaced out so the only way to read them is head-on.

The artist explains it this way:

“Only by confronting head-on what is possible can you stay true to your mission, hopes and dreams. When you step away from the linear path, my work dissolves into dots of color and flashes of brilliant crystal. This glittery, shadowy world is not clear and precise; conceptually it is a metaphor for losing your way, wandering afield from your chosen direction. I want the viewer to experience my work, to address what is possible and take it on full-force and straight away.”

Surrounding the sparkly messages are deconstructed photographs of faces, cropped in on the eyes, and fixed straight on the viewer, who is also staring back at themselves, since the entire composition is floating above mirrors, lit from within and glowing. Its a lot to take in, but bright and cheery in every way.

Brunner knows how to dream big — in fact, this coming spring, his words of wisdom will be writ large across the façade of New York’s Museum of Arts & Design, at Central Park’s southwest corner. Though this may be the artists’ largest work, it is the mission of it that is noble. The seven words he’s chosen are supposedly words that can change the world. With a vision and heart this clear, we can only hope his work succeeds in doing just that.

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