Recent Works: Sebastiaan Bremer, Harry Kipper and Marja Vallila
From May 30 to July 12, 2002, Zabriskie Gallery exhibits work by three contemporary artists: Sebastiaan Bremer, Harry Kipper, and Marja Vallila. Bremer and Kipper employ photographic media as the basis for their transformations, while Vallila collages utilitarian objects together into a sculptural fold of odd-ball ceramic vessels.
Sebastiaan Bremer's handsome drawings weave fantastical, organic webs of dots, lines and figures onto photographic. Working mostly on photographs he takes himself, Bremer layers each print with a laborious, complex pattern of pointillist dots in inks of various colors, constituting an interconnecting, all-over surface. Largely following or working against the grain of the photographic image and also by use of superimposition that recalls the work of Hans Bellmer, Bremer arrives at a species of personal bestiary: one which includes full blown figures, text, personal symbols and ghostly shapes that, when integrated with their grounds, disappear again in a sea of suspended dots. Bremer's snapshots of natural scenery, his wife and family members become hauntingly beautiful interior landscapes full of universal resonances. In his most personal suite, the "Castle Series," Bremer uses found photographs of his childhood home in Kudelstaart, Holland. Photographs of empty rooms, Bremer covers these otherwise unconsequential prints with dense screens of transparent imagery, suggesting time past as well as time present together with a host of other preoccupations, among them the artist's own dreams, memories and reflections. Bremer's theory of the world is organic, romantic and instinctively opposed to the well-oiled, mechanistic view derived from the postulates of Newton and Descartes. His work, a repeatedly ravishing glimpse at what lies behind the image, any image, draws us in beyond the photograph to a terrain that contains worlds.
Harry Kipper was born Martin v. Haselberg in Buenos Aires. He is most known for his performance works with Brian Routh in the two man collective the "Kipper Kids." Sharing a love for dressing up, pulling faces, and role-playing characters with strange accents, the two symbiotically "fused into one" while under the influence of LSD one day in 1971. Each calls the other Harry, and the Kipper Kids are born. In the years following, the Kids regularly perform their wild, reckless, and confronting works at prominent venues such as the 1972 Olympic Games, Charlotte Moorman's Avante Garde Festival, and the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art. In 1974, Harry (Martin) begins his photographic work in Los Angeles. As the Kipper Kids perform more intermittently, Harry continues to make experimental photographs of himself, using Fresnel lens and shutter-speed variations to caricaturize his features. In this latest series of self-portraits, Kipper uses the digital medium as a means to further explore optical distortion of his own image. The results are extreme, with rich, saturated infusions of color and ever more detailed and subtle manipulations of the skin made possible by computer technology. The effects touch upon the full range between abstraction and representation, as in some pictures he is fully present as Harry Kipper while in others, little is left except for pattern and color. The digital medium, as a contemporary tool for further pulling faces and "dressing up," lends itself perfectly to Kipper's sense of experimental histrionics.
Marja Vallila was born in Prague, and became interested in clay upon a visit to the ceramic museum in the hilly Italian city of Deruta, where vibrant colors produced a "collision" when "confronted by Meisen, Capodimonte, Limoges, and Boccia." Departing from the grays and silvers of her earlier sculpture, Vallila's new, poly and monochromatic assemblages pulse with vibrancy, energy, and humor. Taking slip-casts of objects from 19th century molds, she combines these aggregate parts into a single porcelain form. Looking at the finished product, one can make out the shapes of a flared-neck vase, a figurine drummer, suction cups, or plastic hoses. Sometimes they make out like abstract swirls, as one object lassoes around another, looping a randomly tacked yellow hose here or a concealing a bulbous green gourd there. While some works seemingly lack any utilitarian functions, others appear as if an intricate network of circular tubes and reservoirs may make them functional as either vases or elaborate bongs. They are both fun and fragile objects. Their odd shapes make them playful while their bright, highly enamored surfaces make them irresistible to the eye.