Discipline: Visual Art – drawing

Sebastiaan Bremer

Discipline: Visual Art – drawing
Region: Brooklyn, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2018

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 in London, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Aldrich Museum in 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.

In residence, he reinvigorated his practic and unfurled. Works that he brought half finished, started sometimes 20 years ago, were a lovely stepping stone to progress, and empty works, big and small, suddenly presented freedom and openness with no prying eyes and no judgement from anyone, least of all himself. He played as if was 12 again with eyes open and mind fresh. He was able to incorporate strategies stolen from artists in the past, and learned from artists working next door. He left with too many ideas to manifest in work in his three weeks at MacDowell.



Sebastiaan Bremer worked in the Firth studio.

Originally a working barn perched atop the namesake hill of Hillcrest Farm, this building was converted to serve the arts in 1956. A grand set of windows was installed to make the large interior suitable for visual artists, bringing in abundant natural light from the north. The addition of a screened porch and accessible entrance ramp…

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