Dirk Braeckman and Zeno X Gallery have walked the same path together for twenty years already. Today it leads us to a sixth solo exhibition with Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp: Dear deer ,.
Predominantly known for his analogue images on baryte paper, one would almost expect Braeckman to shun digital photography. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the artist has long sought a way to embrace the best of both analogue and digital photography. This quest for a synergy of both now culminates in his latest exhibition. In some of the new works he has added colour during the analogue development process.
For Braeckman, what is irreplaceable is the element of touch, the intuitive movement and coincidence when he handles his camera and develops and influences a negative. Staying true to the analogue process of manipulating images, printing them by means of digital technology has enabled him to intensify his creativity.
For Dear deer , he has combined both work of his own and reworked existing footage from the State Archives of Belgium, as a pilot study, in an indistinguishable and confounding way. Braeckman often looks at places, objects, subjects and existing images that we neglect, abandon or define as the periphery of our conformist society. The images he creates do not correspond with the transparency we mostly associate with the medium of photography, i.e. that they reveal, witness and/or present something in the way we know it. Similar to a painter, he transforms and translates the images he works with, creating often unfathomable images. From reflections, unusual croppings and different manipulations of the same negative to the works' enigmatic titles–the artist's broad oeuvre reminds us, at any given time, that what we are looking at might not be what it seems.
The artist does not recollect images from a nostalgic sentiment, but juxtaposes the neglected, the overlooked, in a collage-like manner that transcends time. This comes close to Walter Benjamin's idea of the ragpicker, whom Benjamin observed in Baudelaire's work and adopted as a metaphor for the poet who, in a similar vein, catalogues and collects everything society has thrown away, everything it has lost, everything it has scorned, everything it has crushed underfoot.
In 2019 Dirk Braeckman had solo exhibitions at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas and at House of Art in Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic. He represented Belgium at the Venice Biennial in 2017. Other solo exhibitions include Museum M in Leuven, BOZAR in Brussels, Le Bal in Paris, S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Kunsthalle Erfurt, De Appel in Amsterdam, De Pont in Tilburg and many more.
His work can be found in several museum collections, among which FOMU and M HKA in Antwerp, S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Mu.ZEE in Ostend, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle, MAC's Grand Hornu in Mons, Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi, Museum De Pont in Tilburg, Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais in Dunkirk, and Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne.
Press release courtesy Zeno X Gallery.