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Dirk Braeckman - Belgian Representative at 57th Venice Biennale

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Dirk Braeckman is this year's Belgian Representative at the 57th Venice Biennale.  Together with curator Eva Wittocx, Braeckman's exhibition presents a full oeuvre of work, including new and unique photographs.

AnOther Magazine
Dirk Braeckman’s Bewitching Display for Venice Biennale

“The spectacle will be in the picture”: the photographer shares the beautiful and haunting photographs that will fill the Belgian pavilion from this weekend

from the series 27.1 / 21.7 / 010 – 014 / 2014© Dirk Braeckman / Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

from the series 27.1 / 21.7 / 010 – 014 / 2014© Dirk Braeckman / Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

It’s easy to lose yourself in the act of looking when you’re in front of an image by Dirk Braeckman. There’s an energy reverberating in the darkness of his photographs that draws you into another dimension – where the eyes simultaneously linger over the surface of the image and orbit around the emerging contours of objects, scenes and bodies that seem to possess lives of their own. For a moment, the allure of these mysterious details offers a much-needed mental detour from the stories we tell ourselves.

Braeckman is representing Belgium at the 57th Venice Biennale with a new series of monumental photographic prints, all of them black and white and on baryta paper. Born in Eeklo, Belgium, the Ghent-based photographer shoots only analogue, and always showcases his images unglazed and uncovered. Without any physical interference, the eye can directly wander along the ridges, fissures and fragments of enigmatic forms, diverting attention from any particular narrative. After all, Braeckman is not interested in crafting narratives, abiding to a specific theme nor capturing reality in his work, the artist is adamant on creating an atmosphere. “I’m not a storyteller, I’m an imagemaker,” he tells AnOther. “The story is made in the mind of the viewer.”

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Eva Wittocx on Dirk Braeckman’s show for the Belgian Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennial

"Unlike most photographers, where the centre of the image contains the most important information, Dirk constructs the images from the edges of the composition inwards."

Curator for Dirk Braeckman's exhibition at the 57th Venice Biennale Eva Wittocx spoke to Sophie Verhulst about the upcoming extravaganza.

"Eva Wittocx, senior curator at Museum M in Leuven and curator of the show, looks delighted. “The show is turning out great, everything is coming together. We’ve got a few loose ends to tie up but overall, we’re ready.”, she explains. The building of the Belgian pavilion in Venice has been renovated over the winter, new skylights were installed and the rooms received a fresh coat of paint. “We don’t have a specific scenography, so the building needed to be in perfect shape for the focus to be on the work. It’s part of Dirk’s practice to create every exhibition anew, within the environment.”, Eva continues, while mentioning that they sent over quite a large shipment to Venice, one that included more works than they could show. “That way, we were able to explore several options and had the freedom to see what worked in the space and which combinations of works we would eventually show.” Working with neither themes nor series, Eva points out that this exactly why Braeckman’s old and new work seamlessly fit together, that the magic of the show is all in the combinations of autonomous works."

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Artist News: Dirk Braeckman to represent Belgium at the 57th Venice Biennale

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"My photos are like unexploded bombs, charged and full of pent-up energy"
-Dirk Braeckman
Dirk Braeckman, 27.1 / 21.7 / 045 / 2014, 2014. Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Dirk Braeckman, 27.1 / 21.7 / 045 / 2014, 2014. Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Dirk Braeckman: “Participating in the Venice Biennale feels like a victory for Belgian photography, which has never had a broad international platform within the visual arts. Nowadays, everyone is capable of taking good photographs and people are only really interested in the end results. I oppose this trend by emphasizing a process-centered exploration. My photos are like unexploded bombs, charged and full of pent-up energy.”

Dirk Braeckman will represent Belgium at the 57th Venice Biennale. His exhibition in the Belgian pavilion at Giardini will be curated by Eva Wittocx, with M - Museum Leuven as the organizing institution. After past editions featuring artists like Vincent Meessen, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Angel Vergara, Jef Geys, Éric Duyckaerts and Honoré d’O, Flemish Minister for Culture Sven Gatz has decided that Dirk Braeckman will now occupy the international stage in Venice.

In his enigmatic photographs, Dirk Braeckman creates a closed, isolated world in which tactility and texture, distance and intimacy are combined. His monumental photographs tell us nothing, yet they suggest entire stories. Braeckman reflects on the photographic image and challenges the medium’s illusions. He experiments in his creative process with different textures and materials, and explores effects such as over and under-exposure through a variety of printing techniques. Braeckman’s images transcend the moment of capture and reach beyond their frame. He finds the subjects for his photographic work in his immediate vicinity—often undefined places or spaces, preferably interior views.

Dirk Braeckman will create a new set of monumental photographs for the Biennale, tailoring their presentation to the architecture of the Belgian Pavilion. His selection of intriguing pictures will respond to the mass production and consumption of images. Pictures and slogans constantly demand our attention nowadays, whether on television, the internet or in the public space. Dirk Braeckman and curator Eva Wittocx will endeavor to create a sense of tranquillity in the Belgian pavilion, allowing visitors to focus their full attention on the images.

The new body of works that Braeckman is making for Venice will be presented in early 2018 at a double show at BOZAR in Brussels and M - Museum in Leuven.

Please visit e-flux for complete read. 

From Broodthaers to Braeckman on view at M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium

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Through representative examples From Broodthaers to Braeckman-- Photography in the Visual Arts in Belgium shows how the medium of photography entered the field of visual arts in Belgium and how it evolved into an independent artistic medium between 1960 and 1990.

Dirk Braeckman, C.O.-I.S.L.-94, 1994.  © Dirk Braeckman, Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp 

Dirk Braeckman, C.O.-I.S.L.-94, 1994.  © Dirk Braeckman, Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp 


"Its location between major artistic centers from London, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf and Paris, and the presence of important visionary collectors and gallery owners, turned Belgium into an important meeting place for the international art world in the 1960s and 1970s. A rising generation of Belgian artists comes into direct contact with international artistic trends like conceptual art, Fluxus and the Situationist International. Local artistic traditions as well influenced their practice. Especially striking is the legacy of the Brussels surrealists, in particular the work of René Magritte and Paul Nougé. Over more, the strong pictorial tradition of the Low Countries, and by extension Europe, turns out to have had a decisive influence on the work of the artists selected for this exhibition, All which is characterized by a constant attention to their surrounding reality."

Exhibition will be on view 6 October until 5 February 2017 featuring works by artists Marcel Broodthaers, Jacques Charlier, and Jef Geys, Jacques Lennep, Jacques Louis Nys t, Jacques Lizène, Philippe Van Snick, Danny Matthys, Lili Dujourie, Jan Vercruysse, Ria Pacquée, Liliane Vertessen and Dirk Braeckman.

About C.O.-I.S.L.-94:
"When we see photographs by the Belgian artist Dirk Braeckman installed in museums, we seem to be looking at photographs that aspire to the condition of painting. They are large — he likes them to be life-size. They are unglazed— he wants no interruption to the eye. They demand as slow an act of looking as any painting. They have the same richness and variety of tones of grey as works by Richter or Celmins. Indeed, Braeckman’s most famous photograph, C.O.-I.S.L.-94, was a photograph of a painting. Before printing he re-cropped it so we see nothing of the frame or surroundings. But this is no normal reproduction of a painting: the light catches the bumpiness of the painting, the lines made by the vertical stretcher bar. Every scratch or nail is as clear as a blemish or mole on a person’s face. A banal painting becomes a beautiful photograph, at once meditative and haunting."
Tony Godfrey, in: "Painting Today", Phaidon, London / New York, 2009

For more info on the exhibition, visit

Dirk Braeckman to represent Belgium at Venice Biennale 2017

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Dirk Braeckman has been selected to represent Belgium for the forthcoming Venice Biennale in 2017.

The 57th Venice Biennale of Visual Arts will take place from 13 May until 26 November 2017. Belgium has in the Giardini, the center of the Biennial, a country pavilion that the Flemish Community can fill in a rotation with the French Community.

Dirk Braeckman was selected by a jury from a shortlist of five. The jury assessed the five proposals following an oral presentation of the artists and curators. All five proposals made a very strong impression despite they started from a very different artistic point of view.

Dirk Braeckman and curator Eva Wittocx convinced the jury with a strong personal story, in which the medium of photography is approached in a unique way. The experiment of Dirk Braeckman the process of photography and the techniques of darkroom give his pictures an exceptional pictorial quality. The work is very authentic and with a high sensuality. The arrangement in the Belgian pavilion, which lends itself perfectly for this strengthens the whole.

With Dirk Braeckman and curator Eva Wittocx the jury made an excellent choice. [...] I am confident that Dirk Braeckman in Venice will catch eyes. I share the opinion of the jury that the Biennial of Braeckman comes at the right time to lift his career all the way to excellence.
— Sven Gatz

About the exhibition in the pavilion
As a starting point for a series of new works for the exhibition in the Belgian pavilion Dirk Braeckman wants to investigate a number of recent runs. The artist wishes to depart from strong images and tries to provide an answer to the daily mass production and consumption of images. In the public space, on television or on the internet we are showered with slogans and images that compete for our attention. Dirk Braeckman's images serve more as jammers in the regular flow of images.

The pavilion of Dirk Braeckman and Eve Wittocx will pursue the opposite: silence and attention, visual experience watching us focus, like moving or shifting the images.

© Lieven Herreman

© Lieven Herreman

I am very happy and surprised by the jury’s selection because there were five excellent candidates. The Belgian pavilion is the best space I could possibly imagine. I love the architecture of the building, the atmosphere as well as the Giardini and Venice itself. Participating in the Biennial feels like a victory for Belgian photography, which has never had a broad international platform within the visual arts. I’m convinced that a positive message need not be spectacular, but that there is a certain spectacle within the image itself, in its tranquillity and sacrality. My photos are like unexploded bombs, as Luc Sante once said, charged and full of pent-up energy. I am very much looking forward to sharing them with a broader audience.
— Dirk Braeckman

Read on about Dirk's representation of Belgium at the Venice Biennale 2017 HERE.

Dirk Braeckman's premier west coast exhibition DIRK BRAECKMAN is currently on view until 13 August, 2016.

Dirk Braeckman work in "Capital: Debt – Territory – Utopia" at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin

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"The exhibition Capital: Debt – Territory – Utopia revolves around Joseph Beuys's pioneering work The Capital Space 1970–1977, made for the Venice Biennale in 1980. This monumental work, here exhibited in Berlin for the first time, is among the most important environments in Beuys's oeuvre. As the symbol of his constant search for liveable alternatives, it sums up his artistic work of the 1970s.  During this period, Beuys developed a new definition of capital: released from its relation to money, his new conception put the creative potential of human beings at the centre of economic thought: 'Art = Capital'."

Dirk Braeckman

Dirk Braeckman


See the works by Dirk Braeckman among many other contemporary artists' work at the Hamburger Bahnhof from 2 July until 6 November, 2016.

For exhibition details click HERE.


Dirk Braeckman listed as one of ten Belgian Photographers who deserve to be world famous

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Author Robin de Clercq writes: "Belgium is more than just a country famous for its waffles, chocolate and beer… It’s also the home of quite a few amazing photographers. But when photography enthusiasts can name more Belgian photographers than Magnum Photos‘s very own Carl De Keyzer or near-celebrity Lieve Blancquaert, I am usually already impressed. Coming from Belgium myself, I think the time is right for the world to get to know ten more of Belgium’s finest."

Dirk Braeckman,  27.1/21.7/043/2014 , 2014

Dirk Braeckman, 27.1/21.7/043/2014, 2014

"Dirk Braeckman was born in 1958 in Eeklo and currently lives and works in Ghent. He studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1977 and 1981, where he met Carl De Keyzer, with whom he founded the XYZ-Gallery.

In his work as a documentary photographer, Dirk tries to evade its traditional conventions, while remaining highly autobiographical. Female nudes, curtains, empty corners in rooms, walls, and abandoned hotel rooms are recurring themes, creating intriguing and suggestive images, raising more questions than they answer. The artist avoids images that are over-reasoned and puts freedom and spontaneity first.

Dirk has had numerous group exhibitions and several solo shows in Europe, and has received considerable acclaim for his portraits of the Belgian King Albert II and Queen Paola. In addition to his photography, he also creates site specific technical installations for varying art projects."

Other Belgian photographers mentioned are: Martine Franck, Harry Gruyaert, Filip Naudts, Nichiel Hendryckx, Stephan Vanfleteren, Bieke Depoorter, Jimmy Kets, Frederik Buyckx, and Marc Legrange.

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Dirk Braeckman Solo Exhibition at ROSEGALLERY on Noovo Editions

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"Photography is, for me, an almost obsessive attempt to scan, in my own way, everything around me, everything I meet, driven by the desire to give order to chaos. With or without a camera.” 
-Dirk Braeckman.

ROSEGALLERY is pleased to present Dirk Braeckman’s premiere west coast, solo exhibition, on view from 30 April 2016 through 13 August 2016. The reception for the artist is Saturday, 30 April 2016, from six to eight pm.

First experimenting with photography in the 1980’s, Dirk Braeckman’s work has evolved into a singular form that evokes minds of sensual ambiguity and intimate solitude.  Through the use of black and white, analogue photography and dark lab techniques, the artist develops a relationship between what is photographed and post-production manipulation. This relationship allows for the found, often commonplace subject…a row of curtains, an empty doorway or a woman’s crossed legs…to arrest attention and command a space that is ordinarily unobserved.

Braeckman transforms the darkroom into a field of experimentation, working closely with the materiality of the photograph. This intimate relationship with his photographic materials mirrors the intimate perspective when photographing his subjects. By utilizing tonalities of the gray-scale and focusing on acute details, such as the folds of a fabric or the curvature of the female form, Braeckman asks the viewer to engage with simple subjects that are often lost in shades of gray.

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