Biography

Sebastiaan Bremer is renowned for transforming ordinary snapshots into grandly baroque and surreal tableaux by a careful process of retouching and enlargement. Since his first solo show, in 1994, he has exhibited in venues such as the Tate Gallery, London, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, and the Aldrich Museum, Connecticut. He has been based in the United States since 1992.

Although Bremer has always been interested in photography, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that he began to draw directly on the surface of photographs. He has been inspired in part by nineteenth century spirit photography, and fin de siècle Symbolists such as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and painter Odilon Redon, but his methods partake of advanced photographic techniques. Often he will begin with a simple snapshot of friends or family or familiar places, and after enlarging it far beyond conventional dimensions, he will begin altering and embellishing the image with India ink and photographic dye. He has often used the ink to produce fine patterns of lines reminiscent of cobwebs, or readings from seismographs. Photographic dyes also enable him to blur and mute some forms while accentuating others, and make some colors bloom while others recede into mysterious darkness. The result is an image that seems to literally vibrate with hidden consequence, as if the subject matter has sent cracks across the surface of the picture. Whilst Bremer’s choice of images inevitably grounds his work in his own biography, his imagery also makes reference to alchemy, art, and the occult, establishing unexpected connections between ordinary life, history, and the unconscious.

Sebastiaan Bremer lives and works in New York. He studied at the Vrije Academie, The Hague, and Skowhegan School of Art and Sculpture, Maine. He has published two major catalogs: Monkey Brain (2003), and Avila (2006). His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.