A HAPPY MIX OF ANALOG AND DIGITAL
When looking at Brooklyn-based artist Sebastiaan Bremer’s detailed artwork, it’s clear there’s more going on than what you see at first glance. Bremer started out as a painter, but 15 years ago he began drawing directly onto photographic prints to create a different kind of imagery. The result feels as though he’s drawing the molecules and ghosts of history that crowd around us—and the collective unconscious itself.
Bremer mostly uses his own photographs, taken with his iPhone and film cameras: a Yashica, Leica, and a “dear ol’ Rolleiflex, the same one my Uncle Paul Kraaijvanger used for his imagery that I ended up using, too.” Bremer also incorporates old family photos, historical imagery, and combinations of those. Sometimes he re-creates and photographs a moment he experienced but wasn’t able to capture.
With a photo print as his canvas, Bremer adds paint and ink and scratches into the mixture with varying degrees of intricacy. Sometimes he creates a drawing by scratching directly onto black photo paper.
Intrinsic to Bremer’s work is what he calls “the fuzz of every medium.” Analog and digital have specific qualities, and “they can coexist happily at the same time.” He sometimes incorporates artwork he finds online by photographing it on his computer screen. This, he says, adds an extra layer of digital noise. It also infuses the archival imagery with the present moment and the artist’s hand, and helps transform the vernacular into new work completely his own.
For example, the Nudes and Revolutions series contains a photo Bremer took of a 19th-century photo by George Hendrik Breitner from the Rijksmuseum’s online collection. He had planned to use the original negatives; when that proved impossible, he instead used his iPhone to photograph the original prints through Mylar sleeves in the Rijksmuseum’s Prentenkabinet. The room's overhead lights and natural light from the windows, along with an orange glow from his shirt, are all visible in the final artwork below. He retained the digital artifacts for visual interest and as part of the story of his image-making process.