Breakdown After Before
Until 1 August 2021, the Dordrechts Museum presents the exhibition 'Breakdown After Before' by Kévin Bray (France, 1989). The solo exhibition explores the possibilities of image production in a variety of media and materials using historical and contemporary techniques. Almost all works in the exhibition are on display for the first time. With a room-filling installation, sculptural paintings and video, Bray unmasks visual illusions to focus on the technology with which they are created. At the same time, it makes you think: what is real and what is not? How do you rate that? That is exactly what this exhibition and Bray's work is all about.
The core of the exhibition is the installation titled Breakdown After Before. The installation is reminiscent of a diorama and is inspired by a technique from the early 20th century film world: 'matte painting'. These are background paintings that provide special effects on camera. The fascination for a wide range of techniques has everything to do with Bray's interest in how an image is created and how that subsequently influences its interpretation. For example, he is interested in the history of visual effects and techniques and in various materials and media – means with which a fictional world can be created. With his installation in the Dordrechts Museum, Bray also created a fictional environment. He chose a number of painted landscapes from the museum collection that – together with film stills and news photos – could form a new landscape. Bray, for example, combined a dead tree and grass from two different paintings by Jacob van Strij and a thinly leafed branch on a rock from a work by Aelbert Cuyp. What is special is that the audience itself becomes part of the installation and sees itself reflected in a projection in this constructed landscape. Some of the images that can actually be seen on the plexiglass plates fall outside the camera's field of view. These are photos of, for example, dumped waste and forest fires. The camera only captures the idyllic landscape of the paintings. An intervention that shows that not only images themselves, but also the way in which they are made, framed and displayed, influences our interpretation of them. Images that in turn color the experience of the world around us.
The 'back' of the installation functions as a projection screen for the video series Morpher (2018-present), which forms the core of Bray's work and is reflected in all his presentations.
Also part of the exhibition is a series of sculptural paintings made of layers of printed Plexiglas. They are slumped against the wall. Details such as 3D printed 'corks' on the steel tubes to which the Plexiglas plates are attached, are reminiscent of richly decorated picture frames. Here and there a brush stroke can be recognized in the smooth surface, applied with transparent acrylic paint. These are conscious 'interventions' with which Bray focuses on the impact of material. Such a brush stroke also makes you realize that all these statues are handmade. Visitors to the exhibition experience the interaction of media and technologies and their influence on the meaning of the image. “I like to bring different techniques together and then mix them in a way that doesn't always make sense. I like the idea that we can still create something new.” – Kevin Bray
Artist and filmmaker Kévin Bray was born in France in 1989 and lives and works in Amsterdam. Bray was trained as a graphic designer and is involved in different types of communication strategies. His work ranges from film, graphic design, illustration, painting, sculpture to music and text.