Looking at Sebastiaan Bremer's pictures is like entering another world, familiar yet strange, where facts and feelings meld like music and lyrics. His work, a mash-up of photography and painting, plays on conventional expectations about photographs while activating some of the medium's earliest superstitions. His painted snapshots conjure up ghosts like a modern-day spiritualist convention; also given free rein are Bremer's studied connections to allusive artists as varied as Hans Bellmer, Duane Michals, Francesca Woodman, and the Dutch Old Masters.
The ink covering Bremer's photographs represents a slow, gradual accrual of time, with dots standing in for the movements of a timepiece. In 2009, while making a commission for Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the artist found he could do away with existing photographic images he shot or found himself. Instead, he branched out to make "a whole set of works on black paper…which felt incredibly liberating: apparently I didn't need a camera to make a photograph… I could time travel."
For Life During Wartime, Bremer has contributed two kinds of painted photographs. For the first, he follows the grain of an established image until it is entirely enmeshed in the web of his rhythmic patterning; for the second, he uses the jet-black surface of photographic paper as a uniformly inky background for portraits cribbed from art history. In both cases time and image are collapsed, as are photography and painting, into a single mesmerizingly evocative experience.