Encounter with Dirk Braeckman
From down below, in the Atrium of the Concert Hall, concrete structures lead the eye upward to the top corner. Here, Dirk Braeckman’s (°1958) H.S.-N.Y.-94-99, printed on Japanese tissue paper and soaked in resin, is applied to the concrete wall. This close-up image of decorative wallpaper together with its fragile materiality is in tension with the surrounding concrete. Braeckman’s dark room is a field of experimentation in which the artist manipulates the paper, working with the materiality of the picture, revealing influences of chance and time. He expands the photographic medium to the point where it becomes akin to the practice of the sculptor or the painter. Almost like a fresco, this work was installed in the Concert Hall so close to its concrete skin.
The actual position of the work and the choice to place it right up against the corner is extraordinary and mainly defined by the artist. It expresses the artist’s strong sense for corresponding spaces, positions and images. This reflection is also captivated in the Boekentoren, the second collaboration with Braeckman. There, the work EE.m.WP.(t)here (2021) was integrated into the newspaper reading room. The artist had the idea of working with a microscopic representation precisely in this room, at the heart of a scientific institution. The elliptical shape of the sculpture also plays on that cellularity. The oval engages in an exciting contrast with the rigid, static and orthogonal character of the architecture and surrounding space. Whereas Henry van de Velde's cabinets follow a very strict rhythm, Braeckman's work is a soft, dynamic present.
The oval shape provides a certain detachment amidst all that is rectangular. It acquires a relative autonomy. Like a floating image, a kind of cloud or planetary something, the work passes through space. The work is composed of two superimposed images. Very subcutaneously, a reflection of the facade can be noticed, like an internal facade facing the image. Whereas photographers are often in the habit of thinking in frames and frameworks, Braeckman, after his intervention in the Concertgebouw, in the Book Tower shows once again how he has a different, more spatial way of thinking. He is visibly considering how you approach a work from the surrounding space and depart from it again.