Zeno X gallery presents “Dear Deer,” an exhibition by Belgian artist Dirk Braeckman. The show features new works by the artist, which continue to be characterized by the predominance of the color gray, from prints on aluminum to stainless-steel frames.
Braeckman, as a contemporary master of analog photography, cherishes his time in the darkroom. However, he is also intent on merging analog and digital. He was initially trained in painting and “uses photography with the mindset and the methods of a painter.” He transposes his photos into prints according to his own interpretation, continually intervening at different stages. The title of the exhibition evokes the beginning of a correspondence. We enter a black-and-white photo-novella in which the story appears progressively, as if trapped beneath a charred surface. The curation is clinical; the rooms, puzzling. As for the deer, we make its divine encounter in Vague memories (all works 2019), the centerpiece of the show. The show also contains other large pieces — a scale that Braeckman favors in order to embrace the physical aspect of his work. It’s been is a nostalgic play in five acts.
Braeckman’s genius resides in his ability to seize the enigmatic. Although he captures traditional subjects such as the female nude, domestic interiors, and floral patterns, his works tend toward abstraction. This makes sense, as Braeckman gives us his impression of things through the tool of photography. Usually he likes to stay within a form of anonymity: fragments of life, bodies without faces. Here, he delivers a kind of intimacy: As I recall is the vivid memory of a fluttering instant.
More than ever before, Braeckman performs the work of an archivist. “Dear deer” is a collection of crumpled images, footprints, and, for this show only, artifacts from the State Archives of Belgium. The introduction of colors and different photographic techniques are the new challenges at stake in these latest works. The work I hope, with its poetic and diluted rainbow above the sea, suggests that color may bring light.