The best filmmakers take about an hour and a half, acclaimed authors, multiple chapters, but Gabriel Grun paints ancient, timeless stories in one frame. And, most often, he is the protagonist.
Gabriel Grun, born in 1978 in Buenos Aires, is an Argentinian obscure figurative painter. That’s what his bio says. But his paintings say much more. They say he is introspective, classic, dark and profound. Grun draws his technique from the Renaissance and Baroque masters but his style is his own. Each frame contains a story of internal conflict and its consequences, mythical struggles without clear resolution.
Grun uses self-portraiture to tell tales pulled from the bible, from dreams, from nightmares and fantasies with himself as the main characters.
A man (Grun?) stands naked in front of a Da Vinci landscape, bow and arrow in hand, aiming straight up. This striking and beautiful image is a masterwork of anatomy, proportion and perspective. But it tells a story of desperation in the moment, a hopelessness in the midst of the world’s beauty, and a final solution to this dichotomy. One has no choice but to assume when the man lets go of the arrow, it will fly upwards, reverse and come back down upon its progenitor. This complex image tells the story of past, present and future. The struggle and failure to accept what it means to be human. The painting is called “Suicide”. And, strangely, it makes me want to live.
Grun combines the rare qualities of a gifted technician and and eloquent visual storyteller. This gift is not without precedent; David Lynch and Julian Schnabel both started as painters only to make their mark later as filmmakers. But even their early paintings did not capture the immediate narrative that Grun seems to deliver effortlessly. In his painting, “Hermaphrodite” Grun and what looks like a female version of himself inhabit much of the same body, sharing a lower-half. Each face has an expression that conveys the confusion of the distance between man and woman, while showing that they ultimately must share the same space on this earth. She, holding the apple of knowledge and sin, he holding the world, together they bear the burden of how the genders relate–or fail to.
Gabriel Grun, through telling stories and asking questions, makes his contribution to the grander novel of the struggle of humanity. And this, while sometimes discomforting, is always needed.