Sebastiaan bremer: Melanchromia;
Ybakatu espaco de arte • curitiba, Brazil


lSebastiaan Bremer, s hertogenbosh,
acrylic on collaged canvas

At first glance, Bremer’s works appear Pop—the images feel graphic and trendy. The energy is young but conscious of how signs are put together and produced by mass culture. The only difference is that Bremer, like a true Dutchman, applies these pop tricks to the rolling hills and distant horizons of traditional landscape painting. The Romantics’ fuel injected nature with the Sublime, whereas Bremer beefs up natural beauty with savvy, graphic appeal. His hillocks are steroid enhanced.
It took only a scissors cut to indicate the horizon, and it hovers between ground and sky like an ominous portent, probing the celestial depth, which so obsessed the earliest landscape painters from Holland—those bridging into the seventeenth century. So his distinctly misplaced horizon-line (either too low or too high on the canvas) mirrors the deep and near infinite picture planes explored by pioneers like Hercules Seghers and Van der Neer. They were the painters who took the process of pleasant observation a few degrees further by imbibing their vistas with allegorical weight. So, is Bremer merely invigorating some kind of seventeenth century nostalgia? No. The thing is that Bremer is painting what he knows, or more precisely, where he comes from. What kind of place is this? The land of cheese and honey?
Not exactly. His vistas are so vast that they suggest the infinite, the divine, whatever is out of reach. The horizon stretches so far into the distance, that we are reminded that as humans, we are limited in our power to penetrate not only the picture plane, but the reality that it conveys. We are pathetic. We are mortal. We are weak. The fact that all traces of human habitation have been eliminated from his compositions supports the feeling of alienation and that the landscape, alone provokes. The cruelty of nature is reiterated in the rough, cutting process of Bremer’s bold strips of color. Furthermore, his palette is monotone. There is no modulation from piece to piece, only the physical placement of these strips on the canvas creates the illusion of three- dimensional space.
In movies, this space collapses when the final curtain drops and “the end” and “fin” rolls up on into the screen. The story is over. The characters gone. In order to achieve this sudden obliteration of everything we have understood as true, there is indicated a field of nothingness behind the ending graphic; a black block, a white fill or the last frame in the story. These finalizing signs are the lines in Bremer’s work, where sky and earth, water, and distant horizons are the only elements. No other forms or vistas are admitted. Into his world only the essentials are to be indicated.

Chloe Piene
New York, New York
2000