Sebastiaan Bremer (b. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1970) attended the open studio program in Vrije Academie in The Hague (1989-1991) and attended Skowhegan (1998). Bremer moved to New York in 1992, where he now lives and works.
Throughout his career, Bremer has in one way or another used pre-existing images to explore profound ideas about time, memory and processing. In his early work, he meticulously reproduced personal snap-shots in painting. Over the years, this process of ‘re-thinking’ visual documents from the past has led Bremer to experiment with different techniques and materials that alter the image’s material existence, adding new dimensions and shifting the viewer’s perception. In 2000 Sebastiaan Bremer began to draw directly onto the surface of personal photographs, covering the images with intricate patterns of dots. Although the work has undoubtedly developed over the years, Bremer notes that ‘the mark making which I found as my mode of expression is truly mine. It is my way of putting myself with a mark into the picture, changing it, making my point of view visible inside the photographed reality.’ It is the transformative veil of the artist’s signature white dots that emotively and visually trace memories throughout his body of work.
Bremer has expanded his practice through complicating the process of alteration, cutting and carving away sections of emulsion to create etchings on the photographic surface and using collage techniques to create hybrid images. He has created multimedia installations incorporating projections, sculptural works, found objects and sound (as in his 2015 exhibition at Hales Gallery, Σπήλαιο [Spilaio]). In 2017, he organized the Sanctuary Project in collaboration with The Armory Show, he performed for twenty days in a Brooklyn church where he lived and worked, collaborating with musicians, photographers and choreographers. Later that year he also had a solo exhibition Ave Maria at Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York.
More recently, the artist has circled back to an early way of working after years of experimentation, celebrating his formative process. Bremer delves into personal memories, registering thoughts and feelings in order to engage with universal concerns about family, the fragility of life, and time passing. Distinctions between the past and present along with old and new observations blur to create alternative narratives that are not entirely conclusive. Much like the nature of memory, his works evoke the way in which we often only half-remember certain moments and how our perceptions change over time. Images of the artist as a child are shrouded in a web of distinctive dots: a type of mark-making that Bremer describes as biological pathways mimicking neuron connectors. The work creates connections between all living things; patterns reference subconscious thinking and emotion and remain a constant that draw the viewer into Bremer’s work, capturing their attention. These patterns lend an intimacy to viewing the pieces, as one has to get physically close to the photographs in order to explore the undulating patterns that swirl across the surface. Yet to see the image underneath - to grasp it fully - the viewer has to take a step back in order to take it all in.
In 2016 Fort Worth Contemporary Arts at TCU held a mid-career retrospective of Bremer's work. Other selected shows include Tate Modern (London), The Brooklyn Museum of Art (New York), Het Gemeentemuseum (The Hague), The Aldrich Museum (Connecticut), Marlborough Gallery (New York), Air de Paris, (Paris), James Fuentes LLC (New York), Storefront for Art and Architecture (New York), Galerie Barbara Thumm, (Berlin), Projektraum I (Berlin), Kunsthal KadE (Amersfoort), MOCA Tucson (Tucson), the Tang Museum, Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs), and the Warhol Museum (Pittsburg). Bremer's work is represented in important private and public collections such as Victoria & Albert Museum (London), MoMA (New York), LACMA (Los Angeles), Berger collection (Zurich), The Zabludowicz Trust (London), and the Rabobank Collection (The Netherlands).