Small Wonders’ focuses on Bremer’s jewel like miniature painted photographs, drawing the viewer into his clever interplay between then and now. Using primarily old family snaps, Bremer creates intricate etched windows from the present into his own cultural background and family history.
Bremer works each contact sheet, c-type or exposed black photographic paper with surfaces that spread organically, like the mycelia of a fungal growth. Some are made with inks and paint, others with Exacto knife tip cuts. Occasionally, Bremer applies thin washes of coloured Indian ink which has the affect of penetrating an inner world of the minds eye. The visceral quality evident in the pieces lies in their inventivness and technical complexity, whilst these tiny compositions are poised nicely between the detailed and the bold.
Bremer is now based in Brooklyn, New York. As with so many earlier artist immigrants to the USA, it has given Bremer a distance with which to explore the rich artistic heritage of, in this case, his native Holland. In his current work, Bremer has singled out the Golden age of Dutch painting of the 17th Century to rework and re imagine. Inspired particularly by David Bailly’s Still life ‘Self Portrait with Vanitas Symbols’ 1651 and more generally by Ruysdael’s landscapes and Dirk de Bray’s still lives, Bremer’s abstracted, rhythmical overlays from earlier works now take on form. These new figurative elements become in turn, vessels into which Bremer can pour his own jogged memories and fleeting emotional responses.
The Dutch Vanitas paintings and other Dutch Golden Age works are for me also a depiction of a decadent culture at its highest and most rarefied and strange. Sebastiaan Bremer
The black and white miniatures shown as part of Small Wonders are from an ongoing series. This new work is a departure from his earlier work. Not restraining himself with the photographic underlay of past pieces, Bremer has a new freedom. Each piece is like snapshots of history, a landscape or interior from hundreds of years go. The question of whether a piece is based on reality or fantasy, or whether a work has an underlying photographic image dissolves. The picture becomes a catalogue, a beginning of an atlas created by Bremer of images of the world, real or imagined, remembered or forgotten.
Sebastiaan Bremer was born in Amsterdam (1970) and moved to New York in 1992. His work is part of several important collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Museum of Modern Art, NY, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Zabludowicz Trust, London, the Rabobank Collection, The Netherlands and Lodeveans Contemporary LLP, London. Bremer’s art work has been exhibited at the Tate Modern, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Aldrich Museum, Connecticut, PS1/MoMA, New York and Het Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. He has recently shown at Barbara Thumm, Berlin (May 2009), and James Fuentes LLC in Chinatown, NY (June 2009) and in 2008 completed a large commission for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in which he referenced LACMA’s collection of Dutch Master paintings. During August 2009 Bremer will be artist in residence at Het Vijfde Seizoen, Netherlands.