November 7 - January 4, 2015
  • Dirk Braeckman - Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

  • Martin Argyroglo / LE BAL

  • Martin Argyroglo

  • Dirk Braeckman – Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp 

  • Martin Argyroglo / LE BAL

  • Z.D.-L.O.-97, 1997

    Dirk Braeckman – Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp 

  • Martin Argyroglo / LE BAL

  • Martin Argyroglo

  • Martin Argyroglo / LE BAL

  • Martin Argyroglo / LE BAL

  • Martin Argyroglo / LE BAL

  • Martin Argyroglo

LE BAL is pleased to present the first major exhibition in France of Dirk Braeckman, a foremost figure in contemporary Flemish photography.

« At first view, Dirk Braeckman (born in 1958 in Eeklo, Belgium) makes photographs in the simplest possible way : he doesn't go in search of remarkable subjects or extraordinary places but photographs whatever happens to be there, using a 35mm camera, often from a frontal perspective and at eye level. Yet his images, which have little narrative content or story-telling value, are never a direct representation of reality. Dirk Braeckman selects, rejects, distorts and sculpts everything he sees.

And suddenly nothing is as it seems. Bathroom tiles, the corner of a bed, a strip of wallpaper, the most mundane object comes alive, fills space, becomes palpable. A satin bed sheet glows, a Formica tabletop exults.

The heightened sensuality of this inert world ties in with the tactile quality of the print itself, further heightened by the use of matt paper and extreme refinement in the shades of grey. Many shades of grey. Pearl grey, coal grey, silver grey, lizard grey, platinum grey, phoenix grey, slate grey, Lisbon grey, clock grey, moon grey… the infinite palette of a monochrome surface. »

Dirk Braeckman, who trained in both painting and photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, brings his images to life in the darkroom where, sometimes years after the original shot, he reworks first the negative itself then the print, lightening or darkening certain areas, often re-photographing his own prints or making « images of images » taken from magazines or websites.

« Photography is, for me, an almost obsessive attempt to scan, in my own way, everything around me, everything I meet, driven by the desire to give order to chaos. With or without a camera. » (D.B.)

This accumulation of negatives and prints becomes the raw material for his work. A source to be endlessly mined. Print after print, this exhausting of the image by the image ultimately pushes Dirk Braeckman's oeuvre into the realm of performance more than a reproduction of reality. 

Dirk Braeckman sometimes makes reference to Luc Sante's book Evidence (1992), a collection of crime scene photographs taken by the New-York City Police in the early twentieth century. Braeckman's photographs are like these crime scenes : too empty, lacking any apparent motive, where everything is potentially a clue. 

Dirk Braeckman's work defies the classical opposition of « abstract » and « figurative » art.

The subject is simply a pretext to reflect on representation IN photography. or how to use the image to translate the mystery of one's own presence in the world. Dirk Braeckman sees himself seeing. A consciousness turned in on itself. »

-Diane Dufour


The book Dirk Braeckman - Sisyphus is co-published by LE BAL and Xavier Barral Éditions to coincide with the exhibition. Sisyphus book gathers for the first time in it's full frame pages, the eponymous serie of Dirk Braeckmans work in a 32 pages edition. The series reveal a blurred scene, where fragments of bodies, legs, arms, backs and faces come closer to one another, merge behind this grey tones without any specific purpose. The serie  made from anonymous gestures brings to the surface of images the delight of a mixtures of bodies, vignettes of gatherings with no particular story.

Curator : Diane Dufour

An exhibition presented as part of the Mois de la Photo 2014.

With the support of Maison Henriot.

In collaboration with the gallery Zeno X (Anvers).

LE BAL's team is thankful to : KMSK (Bruxelles), Le Réverbère (Lyon), Thomas FisherPeter Verhelst.

Media partners : ArtpressConnaissance des artsLenscultureL'Oeil de la photographieParisartPolkaSlashTimeOut ParisFrance CultureTélérama.




Film cycle around Dirk Braeckman

From November 18 to December 16, 2014

Talk with Dirk Braeckman

Saturday November 15, 2014 - 11:30 AM

Yann Gourdon Concert

Thusday December 4, 2014 - 8 PM

Discussion with Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille

Orchestrated by Timothée Chaillou

Thursday December 18, 2014 - 8 PM


Talks and events at LE BAL

From 13 to 16 November 2014

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