Sebastiaan Bremer: New Portraits

6 September - 1 October 2022

Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to present New Portraits, an exhibition by Sebastiaan Bremer (Dutch, b. 1970). Always intrigued by photography’s relationship with memory and time, in this series of abstracted portraits, Bremer explores the ways in which the passage of time can distort one’s perceptions of the world.


He recalls how an hour can feel like weeks, or how months can pass by in what seems like a few days. Alone in his studio, Bremer’s relationship with time and its impact on his memories began to shift. To explore this sensation, he turned the camera on himself, explaining, “The camera moved, I moved, time intervened and the shutter closed leisurely.” The resulting photographs obscure his expression while highlighting his essence. Intrigued by how he might render this intangible quality in other people, he invited friends and family to sit for him. Each subject is photographed against velvety jewel-toned or pastel backgrounds. Soft, even lighting and three-quarter poses hint at the portraiture traditions of his native Holland. Bremer creates a feeling of disorientation by allowing time to unfold in front of the lens and distorting his subjects through blurred motion. 


Viewers become immersed in this disorientation. When seen from a distance, the subjects’ facial features appear more distinct—out of focus yet decidedly recognizable. Upon closer examination, their features blur into abstraction and the minuscule, intricate dot-patterns Bremer paints onto the surface of the paper become clearer—emanating an energy that compliments the form. While painting the patterns, he enters a meditative state, drawing slowly, registering time dot by dot, mark by mark as the patterns ripple, shift, and undulate. These marks do not obscure the subjects, but transform them as if they are materializing out of the constellation of tiny dots. With a subtle nod to the Surrealists, Bremer’s new portraits question what it means to record a person’s likeness and how we are always changing from moment to moment.


Sebastiaan Bremer’s work has been the subject of three major catalogues: Monkey Brain (2003), Avila (2006), and To Joy (2015). He has exhibited internationally at venues including the Tate Gallery, London; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; The Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; and the Aldrich Museum, Connecticut. Bremer’s work is held in permanent museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


Sebastiaan Bremer: New Portraits is on view from 6 September to 1 October 2022. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 5pm. An artist reception will be held on Saturday, 10 September from 3pm to 5pm. For more information, please contact