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Unseen Amsterdam 2018

Galerie Ron Mandos proudly presents work by Isaac Julien (UK, 1960), Sebastiaan Bremer (NL, 1970), Jan Hoek & Bobbin Case (NL, 1984 / UG, 1992), and Girma Berta (ET, 1990) during Unseen Amsterdam 2018.

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 Isaac Julien

Isaac Julien’s new photo collage series Radioactive (2018) has been inspired by his 2004 film Radioactive (Encore II).  Julien’s new collages stage a solitary heroine, an ‘avatar’ called Lilith Lyapo, who is performed by Vanessa Myrie in the film. These collages explore the Lilith’s “avatar” nature and human and mechanical origins, through solarized landscapes and textures. In these works, Julien wanted to move beyond the idea of merely producing photographs. His application of a mixture of metallic foils shifts the work beyond the photographic into a compelling terrain of hybrid materiality. The various cut-outs involve hand-cut digitally printed foils, which are used in advertising, on cars and robotics. These silver, gold, copper, blue and colorful elements create an unreal, dream-like effect. Through the collage technique and the use of these materials Julien is exploring and highlighting visual textures that mirror the diaphanous imagery and the solarisation and re-coloring processes that were also used in Julien’s Radioactive/Encore II (2004).

Both Julien’s Radioactive  (2018) photo-collages and the film Radioactive/Encore II (2004) are inspired by the gripping tale by the African-American science fiction writer Octavia Butler, Dawn (1987).

Each work from this series presents a different combination of colors, cut-outs and compositions, resulting in a distinctive exploration of materiality and create a rare aesthetic. Each work from this series is unique.

Julien has a long-term relationship with collages, as he initially created collage works during his final years as a student at Central Saint Martins in London. Some of Julien’s early collage works, The Other Look (1984), are currently on display as part of the Michael Jackson: On the Wall exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London (until 21st October, 2018) curated by Dr Nicholas Cullinan.

Sebastiaan Bremer

Sebastiaan Bremer often uses pre-existing images to explore profound ideas about time, memory and processing. For his most recent work Bremer has delved 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 are blurred 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.

In the presented works Bremer has drawn directly onto the surface of personal photographs, covering the images with intricate patterns of dots. 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.

 Jan Hoek & Bobbin Case

Jan Hoek created his recent series Boda Boda Madness (2018) in collaboration with Ugandan-Kenyan fashion designer Bobbin Case. The photos introduce the motor drivers Mad Max Driver, Machette, Vibze, Ghost Rider, Red Devil, Lion and The Rasta Driver, who proudly cruise through Nairobi wearing outstanding outfits on their matching bikes. These many motor taxis, known as Boda Boda, driving around Nairobi intrigued both Hoek and Case. Competition among the drivers incited some of them to create fascinating motorcycles in order to stand out from others and attract the attention of customers. However, Hoek and Case realised the bikers forgot their own looks when customising their rides. The artist and designer selected seven Boda Boda drivers with the most inspiring bikes to create brand new outfits with them. As a result the drivers’ imaginative characters are completed to enhance their visibility on the streets of Nairobi.

Girma Berta

In his Moving Shadows series (2017), the emerging photographer Girma Berta juxtaposes solitary figures and sets them against a large field of a single colour, balancing on the verge of urban life photography and conceptualism. His photos exemplify the colourfulness and personalities of the streets of his hometown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Berta works digitally in both the production and the presentation of his photos so that his images themselves comment on as well as participate in the digital art now being made by a younger generation of photographers in Africa. Berta represents the vibrancy of the millennial African.

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ABOUT Sebastiaan Bremer

Sebastiaan Bremer’s artistic career spans across disciplines and media, but he has become particularly renowned for his ability to transform pre-existing images into ornate, dreamlike tableaux through a careful process of enlargement and intricate hand painting that results in completely unique works.

The use of found imagery as a basis to explore ideas about time and memory has long been central to Bremer’s practice, and in the late 1990s he began experimenting with drawing directly onto the surface of photographs. Initially working with snapshots of family members or familiar places, Bremer developed his signature technique of printing the pictures in an enlarged format—well beyond conventional dimensions—and then altering and embellishing the underlying scene with delicate patterns of dots and strokes using India ink and photographic dye, or applying splashes of paint.

Over the past decades, Bremer has used this approach to create a progression of distinct bodies of work, expanding the scope of his source materials from purely personal moments to an array of images that have captured his imagination or held significance in his life. These range from adaptations of Rembrandt etchings to Brassaï’s photographs of Picasso’s studio and Bill Brandt’s series of close-up images of his famous subjects’ eyes, as well as the vintage lithographic flower prints used in Bremer’s Bloemen series.

Whether starting from the work of an iconic artist or revisiting his own family albums, as in his series Veronica, 2018, silver gelatin prints he produced from long forgotten negatives of candid shots his father took of his mother in her mid thirties, Bremer’s choice of visual documents is rooted in his biography. Hints of his native Holland permeate his work, from his appreciation of the way light falls across a room reminiscent of a Vermeer interior to the exquisitely painted addition of a pointillist feather or flowers to a contemporary photograph that transports the viewer to the world of Dutch Old Master paintings. In engaging with images of others, he is constantly investigating his own memories and thoughts, weaving a dialogue between the underlying photograph and the marks he uses to transform but never completely obscure it, thus creating a physical representation of the confluence of our inner and outer lives.

Sebastiaan Bremer studied at the Vrije Academie, The Hague and Skowhegan School of Art and Sculpture, Maine. The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been the subject of three major catalogs: Monkey Brain (2003), Avila (2006), and To Joy (2015), and has been exhibited in such venues as the Tate Gallery, London; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; The Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; and the Aldrich Museum, Connecticut. Bremer’s work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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ABOUT Isaac Julien

Born in 1960, London, UK
Lives and works in London, UK and Santa Cruz, CA

Isaac Julien, CBE RA is a critically acclaimed British artist and filmmaker. In 2018, Julien joined the faculty at the University of California Santa Cruz where he is a distinguished professor of the arts and leads the Isaac Julien Lab together with Arts Professor Mark Nash. Current and recent international solo exhibitions include: Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi — A Marvellous Entanglement, CentroCentro (Panorama Madrid), Madrid, Spain, on view until 29 August 2021; Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour, McAvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco (2020–2021); Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi — A Marvellous Entanglement, MAXXI, Rome (2020–2021); Isaac Julien: Western Union: Small Boats, Neuberger Museum, New York (2020); Isaac Julien: Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2019); Looking for Langston at Tate Britain (2019); and Playtime at LACMA (2019). Julien has previously exhibited at venues including Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013), Art Institute of Chicago (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2012), and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2005). Julien is the recipient of The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award 2017 and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017.

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