Dirk Braeckman started out as a painter, initially only using photography as a medium to document his subjects. This initial practice of painting was decisive in the way in which photography then became the catalyst for a painter’s eye. Dirk Braeckman’s art does not produce images because images have no surface, unlike his works whose granulation matters as much as a painter’s touch matters. A painting is first of all the story of an eye.
What we see in Dirk Braeckman’s works is not the initial shot but a particular look at the world where things are apprehended in a constant relationship with remembrance. What is shown is what has been seen and then, partially or even completely, forgotten.
The photographic act is only a first gesture of capture intended to be archived, sometimes for years, before an image is exhumed, as one exhumes an old memory. The image is taken, left, then taken up again, rediscovered, sometimes darned, rephotographed, reframed or calibrated according to a different light – as our memories are rebuilt when we call them to us, in a wavering authenticity, veiled by the greyish confusion of a backlash memory. There is a possible evidence of what has been seen, a sum of evidence whose existence is only plausible, whose clarity and flagrance are inflected and thwarted by oblivion, by the fallowing of images , by the opalescence of curtains, the matte thickness of curtains or the disturbance of parasitic reflections. These evidences are misleading, they are in no way proofs. It is not a question of giving an account of a lived moment, it is not a question of producing snapshots, but of producing the story of a look, of restoring the way in which the memory of a place sediments until it is no longer a memory but a painting in itself, a world closed in on itself giving itself up retrospectively in its instability, in its evanescence, in the slight floating of a gray light whose tones remain impossible to fix in memory . The works of Dirk Braeckman rest on the progressive withering of an image seen, remembered and gradually disintegrated, until reaching a fragmentation such that the memory forgets itself in the autonomous body of the work. That would be that, a painting.
Excerpt from «Demeurer absent», Jean-Charles Vergne
Catalog of the exhibition Dirk Braeckman, Possible Evidence, FRAC Auvergne
January 28 – May 14, 2023