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Thomas Brummett: This Shimmering World

Installation view, Thomas Brummett - This Shimmering World, Galerie Karsten Greve Paris, 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur
Installation view, Thomas Brummett - This Shimmering World, Galerie Karsten Greve Paris, 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur
06.11.21 - 30.12.21

Galerie Karsten Greve Paris - Côté rue

Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 7pm

Opening
Saturday, November 6, 2021, from 5pm to 8pm

in presence of the Artist.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue.

If there is a rule that defines what a photograph is today it is simply that there are no rules. The question today is just what constitutes a photograph […]? If every mark in a photograph is made by hand with a camera, lens and light sensitive materials processed in the darkroom, yet it seems more a drawing than anything else, then what kind of photograph is it?
Abstraction, Photographic Document or Dream? On a good day, my images are all three.”

Thomas Brummett, 2017

Installation view, Thomas Brummett, This Shimmering World, Paris 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur
Installation view, Thomas Brummett, This Shimmering World, Paris 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur
Installation view, Thomas Brummett, This Shimmering World, Paris 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur
Installation view, Thomas Brummett, This Shimmering World, Paris 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur

In the “Allegory of the Cave”, Plato developed the theory of visual perception by mentioning a metaphysics of light. Uncovering these secrets is an obsession that has haunted many artists for centuries and Thomas Brummett is no exception: “A lot of my work is about process transcendence, observation, alchemy […]”.

In his new series, light thus reigns supreme. Whether in the play of reflections of the ripple blurring the edges of reality or the radiance of a sunbeam in the lens, the photographer handles the infinite subtleties of natural phenomena with poetry. His penchant for Buddhism and Taoist philosophy taught him to pay full attention to the world around him. Like a gaze diving into the essence of beauty, he bows down in rapt contemplation to the imperfect perfection of nature. For Brummett, this attention is not restricted to the motif of fleeting details such as reflections on the water or the movements of rustling leaves that fleetingly part for light. He sees his work as a continuation of the history of natural sciences, which fascinated the world during the 19th century, and insists on the fact all images are actually meditations resulting from a long observation, making it possible to see and feel the world in its entirety.

As he worked on his new series RIVER and HALOS, Thomas Brummett returned to the codes of documentary photography, which aims to capture a situation or environment while maintaining an observational neutrality. The artist thus lends himself to a kind of meditation, similarly to Buddhist meditation, for example, which calls for a detached contemplation of the world and oneself. He is both committed to revealing nature and curious about photographic technique and science. Brummett masters the medium of photography to explore all the possibilities offered by working with light. The final image is thus a visualization of this process, sublimated by chromogenic printing, which makes some of the photos look like photographic drawings.

The images in the RIVER series are based on almost abstract organic motifs. Parts of the forest are reflected in the aqueous undulations of River #14 and River #15, but also in more abstract shots such as River Diptych #3. That forest is not, however, made up of living, lush vegetation. On the contrary, after attentive observation, the viewer can see trees bereft of their leaves with burnt trunks and emaciated silhouettes like skeletons. Thomas Brummett sees these reflections of light on the water as a portal to a parallel universe. He wrote “These pictures are of reflections. Portals into a reversed other world; a kind of fractured looking glass”. “You can experience these works as an environmental message, a kind of photographic drawing, or just meditations on a meandering river. Many symbols revealed themselves on the River: bird and winged reflections comfort us but a few also hint at our burned forests and poisoned water. The camera for me is my way to explore all this and more”. Some works also pay tribute to the great masters of art, celebrating the waves of Katsushika Hokusai or the landscapes of Sesshū Tōyō. River #12 (For Soulages) displays the same light effects as Pierre Soulages’ Outrenoirs. Dedicating works to the great masters who came before him is a way for the photographer to converse with history. He sees perpetuating the timeless dialogue between artists as a rite of passage.

Installation view, Thomas Brummett, This Shimmering World, Paris 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur
Installation view, Thomas Brummett, This Shimmering World, Paris 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur
Installation view, Thomas Brummett, This Shimmering World, Paris 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur
Installation view, Thomas Brummett, This Shimmering World, Paris 2021. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur

The HALOS series, on the other hand, raises the question and the meaning of the phenomenon of light, especially the spectrum we are not able to experience. The evanescent halos are physical manifestations of the immaterial, perceptible to the eye only for an instant. In some of Brummett’s photos, light appears secretively through the dense leaves as a celestial shape, as in Halos #13 (Ascension) and Halos #12 (For the Fallen). Inversely, in Halos #9, the luminous radiance erases the landscape in an intense flash, leaving only optical effects and the colorful glows of the sunbeams.

His photos seem to hold a great deal of mystery, allowing the viewer to dream and reflect on the essence of a work that transcends the traditional photographic observation of nature to create dreamlike images of an exceptional aesthetic quality, guiding the viewer to a state of full consciousness.

Press Release (English)

Exhibited works

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