Sebastiaan Bremer Contemplates Time and Memory With New Portraits

The Brooklyn-based artist is blurring our understanding of what portraiture can do.

Dutch artist Sebastiaan Bremer is debuting a new collection of portraits at Edwynn Houk Gallery. No, these are not your standard, seated portraits that have encompassed presidents and royals alike. This is a different form, one that blurs its subject until new meaning is found. In augmenting traditional portraiture, Bremer is able to investigate memory, time, and the essence of being.

For those unfamiliar with Bremer, his work can be seen in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He’s had collections of his own work shown at the Tate Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and The Hague’s Gemeentemuseum. He’s achieved national acclaim for his art, shedding new light on the traditional means and mediums of creativity. 

Portrait of Vinoodh Matadin | Courtesy of Sebastiaan Bremer

For this collection, Bremer found his impetus in a self-portrait taken on a low shutter speed. Allowing the shutter to hazily close created a blurred image, with motion visible within the photo. The image contained multitudes, both representing his being but also demonstrating a certain fleeting character of self. This inspired Bremer to photograph his friends and family, turning these photos into larger portraits and now showcasing them for the public to see. 

From afar, the subjects of these portraits seem clear and defined. Up close, however, is when the blur and fade are most visible. This creates a sort of optical illusion, crafting a different viewing experience dependent upon the individual. Jewel tone backdrops and three-quarter poses imitate the classic structure of Dutch portraiture, but even these common features are blurred by Bremer’s visualization. He entirely reinvents the genre, codifying memory and loss into the artistic structuring. 

Courtesy of Sebastiaan Bremer

Bremer’s collection is bold, timeless, and inspiring. It truly reinforces Bremer’s role as one of our few creative visionaries. If you’re able to, be sure to see the collection at Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York, NY. It runs from September 6 to October 1, 2022.

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