‘THE ESTATE OF YOSSI BREGER’
Dvir Gallery is delighted to announce the representation of the estate of Yossi Breger.
On this occasion, we are happy to present
Dvir Gallery Tel Aviv
June 30 – August 13, 2022
Yossi Breger (1960-2016) born in Montreuil sous Bois, France moved with his family to Tel Aviv when he was two years old. He graduated in Economics from the Hebrew University and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design where he later became a senior lecturer at the MFA and head of the Department of Photography. His works were featured in numerous solo and group shows both in Israel and abroad; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Israel Museum, the Forum des Images Paris and more. In 1996, he won The Nathan Gottesdiener Art Prize and represented Israel at the Venice Biennale in 1997. He was awarded the Prize for Artists in the Visual Arts in 2010 by the Minister of Culture and Sport.
For the full biography, click here.
Yossi Breger’s standpoint, including his bodily stance, is eminently evident in each and every image he chooses to photograph, manifesting a combination of passion and reflection. In a formal language that is wonderfully precise, Breger composes a comprehensive, profonde model of the world and a story of life out of the elementary components of human environment and culture. Landscape, spaces, structures, objects and people that he photographed in different places around the world – Tel Aviv, Berlin, Cologne, Havana, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Beijing, Stockholm – join together to produce a clear, lucid image of the world, combining measured enthusiasm for zeniths of beauty with melancholy and awareness of the fragility and finality they entail. Breger’s gaze harmoniously embraces the personal and the public, life and death; it generates a pictorial and cinematic drama that is a superb depiction of a foundational moment in which, by standing in front of a thing, one captures the conceptual, personal, social and political aspects it embodies.
– Mordechai Omer, chief curator and director of TAMA (1995-2011)
For Breger, the medium of photography inherently contains a dimension of abstraction. Both the act of photography and the viewing of the photograph create a “space-time point of dissociation on the continuum that exists outside of it,’ isolating the photographed object from its immediate context and creating a certain abstraction. The point of dissociation in the production of the photograph enables an examination of both the detail and the continuum from which it has been taken. That is to say, exposing the details tells us about our perception of reality, but also highlights the photographer’s specific point of view.
– Hagai Ulrich
Breger used to exhibit photographs of objects or sites that were often dissociated from their local, temporal, and cultural contexts – contexts that he called “folklore.” In this way, he emphasized the structural and disrupted the textual continuity that enfolded the construction. He did this to achieve something that was beyond “the drama of ‘the person in the space of things’. Breger was interested in the mode and the structure of the thing, its abstract whole, which is invisible within the quotidian and the continuity.
– Hagai Ulrich
[…] Breger brings writing, divested of its calligraphic unity, unto a state of disunity with itself. In his pieces, the letters, words, and sentences should be read as signs; at the same time they become massive, autonomous, and obtrusive entities which obstruct recognizability by means of visibility. The writing is alienated from itself, a reflection of the object’s persistent evading of any representation and a means of their – non-similar – reconstruction..
– Ulrich Loock, director of Kunsthalle Bern (1985-2010)
“I like to see writing as an object in the air, as something that’s different from writing in a book. Looking at a written text you don’t see the writing itself. The only thing you see is the meaning. You aren’t looking for the words themselves, the existence of the real thing. I like to use painting as well as photography for words, which are considered as non-objects. This layer which is paint makes writing feel like a still-life. I want to look at it this way. I want the work to disturb. And I want you to ask yourself the question you already asked: why?“
Over the years, Breger had many solo exhibitions and his works were widely exhibited in group shows as well. He was featured in exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; the Israel Museum; the Venice Biennale of Art; Forum des Images, Paris; Haifa Museum of Art; Umm al-Fahm Gallery of Art; Ackland Art Museum, North Carolina; and the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, among others.
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A Guide for the Perplexed, Homonyms
Solo exhibition in Dvir Gallery, 2016
In this exhibition, Breger continued to explore the concept of “storyboarding” through language and image, examining sets of layouts that manifest the hidden formula of a whole through the sequencing of individual parts. Breger seeks to uncover the covert skeletal infrastructure that underlies each of the parts while governing their combination together.
The Jewish philosopher Maimonides (Córdoba, Spain, 1135 or 1138 – Cairo, 1204), in the first part of his Guide to the Perplexed (Cairo, 1191), discusses a limited group of words with multiple meanings (homonyms). The words he discusses, while rudimentary and trivial seeming, are supposed to hold clues for a deeper understanding of the parables recounted in the biblical Book of Prophets, an understanding that can reconcile the apparent contradiction between scholarly knowledge as held by the believer and the non-believer.
Breger’s installation features 18 words selected from the first part of the Maimonides’s book, all taken from the 43 chapters (out of 76 in total) where he discusses at length either a single word or several of them. Each word appears on a paper, defined by a square of black ink – a shape that is both elemental and sophisticated and carries major cultural and scientific significances – with the whole sequence following the ordering of the words in Maimonides’s book. The whole that emerges uncovers an underlying structure that sheds light on several fundamental contours of human existence, drawing the outlines of an abstract body while touching on elements of life and culture, truth and proportion.
Five out of the 18 words are highlighted, forming something of a “shortlist” that reformulates the underlying structure on an even higher, more succinct level than the one articulated by the larger group. (Yossi Breger: “face is the body, the physical; full is the thing we want, the passion; sadness is emotion, an exemplar of the feelings and the mind; chair is culture; and wind is nature”).
According to Maimonides, the abstract concept of the whole constitutes a step in the way towards a higher understanding of the concept of deity. For Maimonides, this insight into the whole – a hidden formula underlying all things – is comparable to a lightning stroke or to momentary flashes that spark light in the great and inherent darkness.
“Because there is a close affinity between these subjects [the natural elements] and metaphysics, and indeed they form part of its mysteries. Do not imagine that these most difficult problems can be thoroughly understood by any one of us. This is not the case. At times the truth shines so brilliantly that we perceive it as clear as day. Our nature and habit then draw a veil over our perception, and we return to a darkness almost as dense as before. We are like those who, though beholding frequent flashes of lightning, still find themselves in the thickest darkness of the night.” (Maimonides, from the introduction to Guide to the Perplexed; translated by Michael Friedländer, 1881)
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Time is not money
Solo exhibition in Dvir Gallery, 2014
The exhibition presented 130 photographs, mostly taken in the last three years, from various places around the world Paris, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Shanghai, Berlin, Frankfurt, Athens, Amsterdam, Cologne, Brussels, Madrid among others.
The photographs were taken in the course of everyday life and depict landscapes, buildings, spaces, objects and people; the foundations of any human system. Each image thoughtfully and harmoniously describes a chosen thing in its specific time and place, and yet includes within it the further, ideal and conceptual dimension, in which each object represents a fundamental cultural category: the Book, the Window, the Picture, the Landscape, and so on. The exhibition attempts to make what may be photography’s strongest quality — its ability to create consciousness — ever more present. During the years, this quality developed greatly and its use has become ever more sophisticated.
The photographic installation creates a story-like reading environment with a circular and hierarchical structure, which advances from each photograph’s story to the subnarratives of each photo group and finally joins into the sphere of the basic, whole narrative. The various hierarchical story-lines examine the status of the single, independent photograph in itself, as a concept and as a life event, while also examining its place in relation to the other images, and in relation to a general human cultural system.
The installation and combinations of images aims to follow the process in which pictures accumulate into content, or into abstract yet simple, coherent system that articulates a surrealist and yet understandable story, which exceeds any specific thing, time, or place. All together, it creates a whole that defines a procedure, that becomes a model for a world in human proportion, which communicates an outline of the being, movement and thought of as if “everyone” in relation to the world and its “things”, culture and nature, to the general human system.
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And there was evening And there was morning, One day
Solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2011
The exhibition presented 159 photos, all new, in various formats, taken since 2007 in various places around the world—Tel Aviv, Berlin, Cologne, Havana, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Beijing, Stockholm—in the course of daily life. The photos—of landscapes, buildings, spaces, objects, people—tell a story of being in front of a thing, the fundamental things that form the infrastructure of human environment.
They are precise and thoughtful, articulated in pictorial, emotional and classical formal language; their accumulation creates a general conceptual model of a life story and a world, time–space relations constructed by light and revealing a personal and sensual touch with elements of nature and culture.
“I am interested in the environments and systems people set up for themselves, their flow and function. And when I see, I usually also photograph, mostly without any local elements. Much like Beckett’s stories: there’s a man, there’s a woman, there’s a hill, there’s a house, there’s a hat, there’s a walking cane—all of which are generic and skeletal, without any identificatory properties, and yet there is a statement in the compilation of all these places. All of them, from various aspects, have things I think about positively—again, in a general way. It is in no way an attempt to present a heaven on earth.“
“Repetitions… That is the underlying basis of everything. It starts with day and night, with the movements of the planets one around the other and the cycles of nature: they are repetitive. There is not even one distinguishable thing in culture or nature that does not repeat itself. We need things to be like other things. Hence the human obsession for mapping and categorization. For a thing to get our attention it needs to be part of a defined group; only then can we recognize it, only then does it become something we can think about, only then does it gain significance. It must be of a type, similar to something you have seen before, which is only natural: one couldn’t digest the endless singular details in nature […]. Variants enrich the world. I seem to repeat scenes, objects, positions—but in fact it’s the world that’s repeating itself in front of my eyes.“
Yossi Breger in conversation with Gilit Fischer and Eitan Boganim (Part 1, in Hebrew)
“[…] I look for a well-constructed, even seemingly staged image, in real life—an image that has a pictorial quality and meaning. Things need to be composed in a precise manner, so that everything may have a distinct place in the frame’s order of things, and thus also in our mind and memory. When you see this image I would like you, the viewer, to think of all these classical categories, so that you may, through them, see a whole, a general model. Through the basic things you experience in daily life, I would like these categories to lead you to general, skeletal, somewhat abstract story, perhaps a surreal one, and construct everybody’s story of life—the “big picture.” What turns these things into a story is the feeling of the passage of time as you watch familiar places and objects. This generates a sense of observing the system, or human culture, through very specific representative details.“
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The Nathan Gottesdiener Foundation Israeli Art Prize
Solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1996
In this exhibition, Yossi Breger presented painterly series of textual works in which Breger, like the tailor-artisan, works with fabric and tailor’s scissors, by means of which, using words and numbers, he creates a narrative structure that has been completely divested of its narrative content and remains like an abstract skeleton, a congealed mold engraved on the memory which, by constantly duplicating itself, thwarts any possibility of divulging its truth. The letter and numbers refer us back to a fabric of recollections as impenetrable as the black fabric from which they were cut out.
The major works of the exhibition are that of the series Etude pour un Premier amour. The appropriation and quotation from Beckett and his work Premier amour introduces writing into the painterly field that becomes a matter of displacement. […] Writing appears in two modes in these six works, differentiated by the size and placing of the lines: once in the form of a caption, as in an illustrated publication, giving the title, year, technique, and measurements; and once in the form of a substitute for the missing representation, a writing-image (rendered as mirror writing) in the center of the picture.
Dvir Gallery Tel Aviv
June 30 – August 13, 2022
Tuesday – Thursday: 10:00 – 17:00
Friday, Saturday: 11:00 – 14:00