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olaf breuning

Born in 1970 in Schaffhausen (Switzerland). Lives in New York,
His photographs, video and sculptures feed on popular cultural codes, stereotypes having their roots in mass media. The artist travels all over the world (from Spain via Switzerland to Peru) in quest for onirique places to stage his large-size photographs.

Breuning's works are characterized by the grandeur of staging which serves to create visually fascinating surrealist images equipped with an attention grabbing narrative. The artist wanders freely among the reality of abandoned signs, playing with successive copies of no originals. His works seem to be strangely familiar, just like Cindy Sherman's.
In his art Breuning deprives places and objects of their real perspective, creating situations which in principle lack inner consistence.

Approaching critically the increasing hermetics of contemporary art he focuses on pop culture, thus making his works accessible to the wide audience. The artist emphasizes the continuity between what is high and low, ordinary, film-like, onirique; opening subjective forms of reception, questioning the existence of the only consistent truth.

Merging values, he demonstrates his attitude to reality as being born in your head. Breuning's laid-back works, as if offered to the viewer nonchalantly, ask a direct question on the boundaries of "what an artist is allowed to do".

^ Olaf Breuning, Snowman, C-print mounted on aluminium, 2006 (detail)

^ Olaf Breuning, Spaghetti Sheep, C-print mounted on aluminium, 2005

^ Olaf Breuning, Handcraft, C-print mounted on aluminium, 2005

^ Olaf Breuning, mr Hand; mrs Ars; mrs Knee & mr Food, C-print mounted on aluminium, 2004

^ Olaf Brauning, We Only Move Something Changes, C-print mounted on aluminium, 2002

^ Olaf Breuning, Double, C-print mounted on aluminium, 2002

^ Olaf Breuning, Skeletons, C-print mounted on aluminium, 2002 (detail)

^ Olaf Breuning, Knights, C-print mounted on aluminium, 2001 (detail)

"Breuning, critical of what he regards as the overcodification of much recent art, immerses himself in pop culture to ensure that his own work remains accessible. Emphasizing a continuity between daily life and the dreamworlds of fashion, film, and TV, he refuses the possibility of a single, coherent truth. And, like Mike Kelley before him, he employs adolescent humor to bypass any lingering expectations of a po-faced, grown-up "conclusion." But what remains is, despite a much-touted but hardly distinctive use of an amateurist vocabulary, a rather slick, perversely watchable, but ultimately purposeless wig-out..."

Michael Wilson, Olaf Breuning: Metro pictures, "ArtForum", April, 2004

"The play of signification in Breuning borders on random nihilism. The props from one of his projects could easily be substituted for those from another. (It comes as no surprise that the artist researches and buys all his materials on the Internet.) Everything begins to merge in a primordial stew of uprooted meaning. Critically, this is the sort of procedure that has high-art purists--and their right-wing conservatisms--antsy. "The time of hiding in a specific medium is over," says Breuning. "It's just not enough anymore. I think a lot of artists, critics, and other art freaks are more and more bored with stereotypical art productions. They want to be part of the everyday world and not part of the art system. I just try to be honest with myself. I want to work and speak the contemporary language of today. I don't care about people who want to save high art. If they truly wish to do that, I wish them a beautiful sleep. And if they happen to be right wing, then they should be asleep anyway".

Chris Chang, Olaf Breuning - Vision - Brief Article, Film Comment, July-August, 2002

"Breuning's photographs, however, attempt neither to postulate a rigid and autonomous counter-world nor to expose existing images as a surrogate reality. Alternative worlds seem completely out of the question today anyway, because "the image" and images of the world have long since lost their connection. Instead, Breuning stages a virtuosic game of cliches and codes. For the glossy photos on exhibit, this means that a longing for historicity and for myths of originality is met in an affirmative way. Even silly-looking bundles of wood can indicate short raffia skirts, though they don't even manage to cover the boxers of the four half-naked young men. Hollywood methods and stereotypes are used to construct an image of "natives" in which the media-produced idea of authenticity is adopted and produced anew. These constructions are the result of various combinations of codes and are predicated on a purely additive approach. Probably for this reason, the grim figures in these pictures often recall those of Dutch gro up portraiture.
Breuning is in no way calling the truthfulness of images into doubt. There is no moralistic finger pointing here; rather, Breuning demonstrates how the simplest means suffice to evoke in us deep-seated feelings or even ideas only made possible by our familiarity with a reality created by the media".

Philipp Kaiser, Olaf Breuning: Kunstverein - Freiburg, "ArtForum", Dec. 2001.

"...he employs a visual language of pop culture and music which he edits, denaturalizes, makes disgusting. His interest is focused, among others, on monstrous human forms, kitsch, excess, imbalance and absurd humour".

Olaf Breuning

ub. 1970, Schaffchausen, Switzerland
1988 - 1993 studied photography, Zurich
1993 - 1996 postgraduate studies in photography, HSFG, Zurich
1999 Atelier scholarship, New York
2000 awarded Manor Kunstpreis, Schaffhausen
2000 The Kiefer Hablitzel Foundation scholarship
lives and works in New York

selected solo exhibitions:

UBS Wolfsberg, Wolfsberg, CH
Centre d'art contemporain, Videokiosque, Paris, F
IMA, Brisbane, AUS
Nils Stark Contemporary Art, Kopenhaga, D

Galeria Air de Paris, Pary¿, F
They Live, Chapter Visual Arts, Kardiff, GB
"Oh is a garden!", Galeria Chisenhale, London, GB
Home, Kunst-Büro, Lupiod Lounge, Munchen, D
Galeria Kodama, Osaka, J

Nils Stark Contemporary Art, Kopenhaga, D
Tell bitte malden, Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, Zurich, CH
Galeria Kodama, Tokio, Japan
The New Stedelijk Museum CS/ Auditorium, Amsterdam, NL
Olaf Breunings videos, Association EDV, Toulouza, F
Olaf Breunings films, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, E

Magasin - Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Grenoble, F
Museo Garillo Gil, Mexico City, MEX
Under the Bridge, Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasburg, F
Art Unlimited, Art Basel, Basel, CH
Galeria Arndt & Partner, Berlin, D

Hello Darkness, Swiss Institute, New York, USA
Galeria arsFutura, Zurich, CH

Metro Pictures, New York, USA
Galeria Meyer & Kainer, Vienna, AUS
Galeria Arndt & Partner, Berlin, D
Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg, D
Artspace, Auckland, NZ
Galeria Air de Paris, Paris, F
Museum zu Allerheiligen; Kunstverein Schaffhausen, Apes, CH

2000 - 1997
Ugly Yelp, Galeria arsFutura, Zurich, CH
Galeria Air de Paris, Paris, F
Woodworld, Centre d'art contemporain, Geneva, CH
They Live!, Galeria arsFutura, Zurich, CH
Woodworld, Kunsthaus Glarus, Glarus, CH
Schlund / Chris Croft, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, St. Gallen, CH
BINZ39, Waldfest, Zurich, CH

selected group exhibitions:

Impact Festival, Utrecht, NL
Seoul International Photography Festival, Seoul, ROK
Some Tribes, Galeria Scalo Guye, Los Angeles, USA
Programme Vidéo Suisse 3 Génerations, Spazio Culturale Svizzero di Venezia, Venice, I
Human Game, Fundacja Pitti, Florence, I
Imagination Becoles Reality Part VI, Sammlung Goetz, Monachium, D
Negative Space, Extended, Videonale / Kunstmuseum, Bonn, D
Action, FRAC Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Marseille, F
Galeria Nicola von Senger, Zurich, CH
Metro Pictures, New York, USA

Blankness is not a Void, Standard, Oslo, N
Works on Paper, Galeria Arndt & Partner, Berlin, D
Naturellement Abstrait, L'art contemporain Suisse dans la collection Julius Bär, Centre d'Art
Contemporain Geneve, Geneva, CH
The Zine UnBound: Kults, Werewolbes and Sarcastic Hippies, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USA
When Humor Becomes Painful, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, CH
Migration Baustelle Schweiz, Toni Areal, Zurich, CH
Nomad's Land, Miracle Association, Bayonne, F
Figure it Out, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, New York, USA
Viennastripe, Museum in Progress, Vienna, A
First We Take The Museums - Urban Arts Now, Kiasma Nykytaiteen Museo, Helsinki, FIN
Burlesques contemporains, Jeu de Paume, Paris, F
Growing up Absurd, Kent Institute of Art, Kent, GB
Second Sight, The Prague Biennale of Contemporary Art, Praga, CZ

Mind the Gap, Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg, D
Romantic Detachment, Henry Moore Contemporary Projects i Galeria PS1, New York, USA
Sommerfrische: Künstlervideos mit Esprit, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, D
Tell bitte melden!, Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, Zurich, CH
I am the Walrus, Cheim & Read, New York, USA
Skin Tight: The Sensibility of the Flesh, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA
The Aesthetical Impact of The B-movies on Contemporary Art, Magazin 4 - Voralberger Kunstverein, Bregenz, A
Boys Behaving Badly, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, USA
Short Stories, Photo Museum Provincie Antwerpen, Antwerp, B
Dream Extensions, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Aktuelle Kunst, Gent, B

GAME ART Kunst Bildschirm und Wirklichkeit, Europäisches Zentrum für Kunst und Industriekultur, Völklingen, D
10. Biennale de l'image on Mouvement: Swiss Art Video Lobby, Centre pour l'image Contemporaine, Geneva, CH
Les vingt ans du FRAC, Chapelle de la Sorbonne, Paris, F
The Fourth Sex: Adolescence Extremes, Fondazione Pitti Imagine, Florencja, I
Swiss Mix, Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, E
Venus im Pelz, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, A
MARS art and war, Neue Galerie, Graz, A

Out of Control, Liverpool Biennale, Liverpool, GB
Tutto normale, Villa Medici, Rome, I

M-family, Migros Museum, Zurich, CH
Hypermental, Kunsthaus Zurych, CH; Kunsthalle Hamburg, D
Let's Entertain, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, D; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, MEX; Miami Art Museum, Miami, USA
Der Gehilfe, Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Dortmund, D; Museu de les Arts Decoratives, Barcelona, E
My Generation, Galeria Atlantis, London, GB
bdv (wideo), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, F
gravitaZERO, Fundacja Adriano Olivetti, Rome, I
Escape, Tirana Biennale, National Gallery, Tirana, AL
Utopie politique et religieuse, Hay Art Center, Jerewan, AR
...If a Double Decker Bus..., Galeria Air de Paris, Paris, F
Contemporary Fairy Tales, Five Years Gallery, London, GB

Reality Bites, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nurnberg, D
Let's Entertain, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Portland Art Museum, Portland, USA
Der Gehilfe, Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Zurich, CH
Guarene Arte 2000, Fondazione Sandretto Rebaudengo, Torino, I
International Media Art Festival, Kiev, UA
Au-dela du spectacle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, F
Stadt, Land, Fluss, Galeria Arndt & Partner, Berlin, D
Close-up, Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz, CH; Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg, D
The arsFutura Show, Galeria arsFutura, Zurich, CH

1999 - 1994
Eidgenösschische Wettbewerb für freie Kunst, Basel, CH
Statements, Art Basel, Galeria arsFutura, Zurich, CH
DACH, Galeria Krinzinger, Wiedeñ, A
Come in and Find Out, vol. 2, Kunst-Werke. Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, D
Missing Link, Kunstmuseum Bern, Berno, CH
From Camouflage to Free Style, Toasting Agency in cooperation with the Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris, F
wystawa stypendystów, Kunsthalle Zurich, Zurich, CH
Freie Sicht aufs Mittelmeer, Kunsthalle Schirn, Frankfurt, D
Medium eine Welt dazwischen, Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich, CH
Gewebeprobe, Museum zu Allerheiligen, Schaffhausen, CH
Gross und Klein, Museum für Gestaltung Zurich, Zurich, CH
Ernte, Museum zu Allerheiligen, Schaffhausen, CH
8004 Zürich, the Peter Kilchmann Gallery, Zurich, CH


- Planet B. Die Ästhetik des B-Movies in der zeitgenössischen Kunst, pub. Wolfgang Fetz, Judith Reichart, Vorarlberger Kunstverein. Magazin 4 - Revolver - Archiv für aktuelle Kunst, Bregenz, 2004.
- M_ars. Kunst und Krieg, pub. Günther Holler-Schuster, Peter Weibel - Hatje Cantz Verlag, Graz, 2003.
- Phantom der Lust. Visionen des Masochismus, pub. Peter Weibel - Belleville, Verlag Michael Farin, Graz, 2003.
- Michael Wilson, Olaf Breuning: Metro pictures, "Art Forum", april 2004.
- Andreas Pfister,, Death and the maiden - Olaf Breuning: Hello Darkness, Zurych, 23.I.2003.
Different Articles on Web Pages:


[Translated by Ma³gorzata Sady]

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16 XI - 31 XII 2006
shahram entekhabi
It’s Been a Long Way, Baby...

23 III - 22 IV 2007
wael shawky
The Forty Days Road. Wet culture - Dry Culture

27 IV - 03 VI 2007
olaf breuning
Woman and Dead

06 VII - 02 IX 2007
jesper alvaer, isabela grosseova
Figure and Ground

07 IX - 21 X 2007
adrian paci
Spaces in-between

13 XII - 27 I 2008
loulou cherinet

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