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⁠First work presented is Sebastiaan Bremer’s I’ve Been Holding My Breath For a Long Time Now #6 (2020), an edition work the artist created on the special occasion of his new solo exhibition I Am New Here at Galerie Ron Mandos.⁠

Featured edition work:⁠
Sebastiaan Bremer⁠
I’ve been holding my breath for a long time now #6, 2020⁠
Fine art print
20,3 x 29,7 cm
Signed and numbered on the reverse⁠
Edition of 25⁠

About the work

I’ve been holding my breath for a long time now (2020) by Sebastiaan Bremer is an edition print, part of a series the artist started twenty years ago. It shows an image of a girl swimming underwater in a pool, on top of which Bremer drew waves consisting of dots, seemingly keeping the girl safely suspended in animation. As our world ground to a halt due to Covid-19 and we collectively held our breath, Bremer revisited this series, keeping track of the slow passing of pandemic time and hoping for the best.

“In 2000 my girlfriend Andrea called up from Brazil before she got on the plane to New York: she was afraid the plane would crash. We spoke, I told her not to worry and that all would be fine. After hanging up I started to second-guess myself. I couldn’t sleep, and I figured since I was awake I would pass the time by trying to work on this one deep blue image of my goddaughter Veerle swimming underneath the surface of a pool, holding her breath.

I started hesitantly in one corner with small white dots, tracing the waves in the water. I wasn’t looking for meaning, just passing and recording time, dot by dot, keeping the waves going from left to right. My pen on the photograph was mimicking the needle in my brain registering the waves of memory.

This picture of her swimming under water and holding her breath, shot on a waterproof disposable camera in a pool in 1996 or so, slowly transformed into a magical object, holding my anxiety in check, keeping my mind afloat, keeping my fear at bay, keeping Andrea’s plane magically aloft, safely bringing her home to New York. My dots seemed to guard Veerle in place, with her breath inside. She had become a bit of an angel, keeping Andrea safe, and keeping me going. It was complete and utter magical thinking.

After I finished I called this work ‘I held my breath for 13 hours afraid she would not come home’. It became clear to me that these small white marks propelled me forward, that each small white mark made sense of the previous ones. They made lines and shapes, settling between the dots of colored emulsion in the print—not perfect, but clear. The illusion pictured held, the drawing did not overpower the photograph, they let it squeeze through, and the dots were able to squeeze in between the colored flecks making up the photograph.” – Sebastiaan Bremer

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.