Architectural Alchemy: The Art of Lars Jerlach

lars jerlach studio imageIn the realm of contemporary art, Lars Jerlach emerges as a distinguished artist whose work explores the intersection of brutalist architecture and contemporary culture. Jerlach's dissection of the fundamental elements of brutalist buildings aims at an investigation among technology, perception, and visual culture. His work is driven by a desire to engage with the evolving relationship among our digital age, aesthetics, and the ways in which visual narratives are constructed.

Brutalism, with its characteristic bold geometric forms and emphasis on function over ornamentation, aims to elevate what is essential. When one hears the term “brutalist,” one may initially picture something very linear and austere. Brutalist architecture may be thought of as devoid of decoration, but that is somewhat of an oversimplification. Brutalist buildings demand their own way of looking – the form and structure of brutalist architecture demonstrates honesty – purity even.

Lars Jerlach explores a way of looking at brutalist architecture that emphasizes the need for intellectual and emotional honesty in a world saturated with manipulated and distorted visual information. Jerlach poses questions about how we situate ourselves in the world in relation to the history, images, narratives, and other information we consume. Through his artwork, Jerlach compels us to reimagine our role within broader society in relation to his observations, inviting us to appreciate what is essential to the human experience and to consider what is real and what is manipulated. Just as Brutalism sought to adopt earlier principles of postwar design when reconstruction was a necessity, Jerlach’s work draws attention to a societal reconstruction – bringing the collective consciousness back to something that is much purer and unadulterated.

His work underscores the contemporary context in which humans operate and observes the omnipresence of visual content in our daily lives due to the constant stream of imagery we encounter –both real and artificial. While exploring those links, Jerlach pays homage to the austere beauty of brutalist architectural design by translating the essence of brutalist architecture into thought-provoking artworks that engage with space, texture, and form. His pieces resonate with the very ethos of brutalism – the integration of form and function, and the articulation of structure.

The bold visual statements Jerlach crafts are an invitation to reconsider our relationship with the built environment, our perceptions of functionality, and our understanding of the very materials and context that shape our surroundings. In this sense, Jerlach's art serves as a catalyst for contemplation and discourse, prompting viewers to consider their place and role within society.

One of Jerlach's most notable collaborations is his more than two decades-long involvement with tectonic industries, an art partnership with British artist, Helen Stringfellow. Known for its innovative approach to materials and construction, the collaboration enriches the discourse surrounding visual, literal, televisual, and cinematic pop culture that centers on appearances and narrative whereby borrowed language is manipulated to heighten the artificial. tectonic industries create mixed-media installations that scrutinize our all-encompassing desire for instant gratification and immediate satisfaction.


Jerlach currently is Associate Professor of Art at Southern Maine Community College. He lives and works in Portland, Maine and is represented by Artly International.

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