17 Jan - 16 May 2004
work in collection
In his first museum exhibition to be held in the Netherlands, Belgian photographer Dirk Braeckman (Ghent 1958) will show a selection of his most recent work. The work of Braeckman has become widely known and appreciated in his own country, partly due to a retrospective exhibition at Ghent’s SMAK in 2001 and his contributions to 2003Beaufort in Oostende and Watou’s 2003 art and poetry festival. Above all, he has received considerable acclaim for his portraits of the Belgian king Albert and queen Paola. These photographs were commissioned by the Royal Palace in Brussels.
In 2002 Dirk Braeckman was granted the cultural award of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
The response to the work of Dirk Braeckman has been remarkable in view of the fact that his photographs are somewhat enigmatic and not easy to grasp at first sight. Almost all of his work is in gradations of black and white, and the subject matter often consists of austerely furnished interiors that evoke a melancholy atmosphere. Occasionally he has done portraits of women who remain as anonymous as the spaces in which they are depicted. For the most part, these seem to be ‘hotel rooms with an hourly rate’ or shabby boarding houses where any attempt to renovate has been given up long ago. Braeckman photographs the dreary shower cubicles, the elevators, corridors, curtains, mattresses and frosted-glass windows. The gray photographs make these spaces appear to be even more stale than they already are in reality. Belgian art philosopher Frank Vande Veire put it aptly: “The photographic haze lies across the depicted interiors like a layer of ash.