Expo: 'Hardscrabbled' from Zach Bruder, the weight of images
Zach Bruder, 'Previous Universal Moment' (2016-2017)
In his first exhibition in Belgium, the young US painter Zach Bruder plays with subliminal images from the collective unconscious, with humour and unbearable lightness.
Zach Bruder’s paintings, though timeless, speak of today’s world. The artist seems to have captured on canvas images which float in the collective unconscious, paintings, drawings, anything and everything. He is more interested in ideas and their representation than reality. In his New York studio, the artist has accumulated an impressive number of archives of all kinds, which serve as the inspiration for his works.
He gathers the content for his paintings from this vast assortment of pictorial influences from this century and the last: advertisements, caricatures, cartoons, photos, and paintings. There are many references, but he doesn’t emphasise them, believing that images have double and triple lives and that their significance can change with each representation.
Thus, he does not seem particularly concerned with maintaining a recognisable style. There is detachment, but also a desire to accommodate the demands of the subject, to retain its essence, and a reluctance to overdo it. Some canvasses lean towards pop art, others towards expressionism, or even nouvelle figuration.
Masters of fake news
Perhaps the only consistent feature is his muted colour palette, which is low-key but paradoxically never dull or sad, even though the subject matter is not generally light-hearted, as with the four ghosts in Remove Doubt, who follow each other, pressed against one another, each carrying an identical little package. Could these be the lost souls who fill the streets at the end of the office day, or jurors about to take their seats in a trial? Everyone will have a different interpretation.
In Arts & Letters, Bruder paints a skeleton lying back with a good book. In the background is a house inspired by the logo of the publisher Random House Books. Maybe literature is now only good for the dead. But at least down there, one has the time to read, with a big grin on one’s face.
The psychedelic landscape in Previous Universal Moment is a reference to the Flat Earth Society, the masters of fake news. It just goes to show, there is no truth to be found in painting.
The gallery also presents photographs by Belgium’s Anouk Ines in her very first exhibition after many years of working. Her unsettling forest images are produced without any manipulation, playing only with the light and exposure time. Night, day, it’s impossible to tell. The viewer is transported out of time to another place.
> Zach Bruder: Hardscrabbled. > 15/07, Harlan Levey Projects, Elsene