8 Facts about Olaf Breuning

From "eating the world", to finding your own way of painting and why humour is an essential aspect of his work, delve into the world of artist Olaf Breuning

From "eating the world", to finding your own way of painting and why humour is an essential aspect of his work, delve into the world of artist Olaf Breuning

Cultural satire has driven Breuning’s work since the early ‘90s:
The artist invites viewers into surreal and humorous worlds via drawing, painting, video and sculpture (Home, The Art Freaks, and a 35-foot cloud sculpture in Central Park, New York are a few highlights).

Breuning uses Instagram to push the boundaries of contemporary art:
Breuning has published faces on food since 2013 (@olafbreuning) – challenging the idea of what food art can be. His Instagram account is an extension of his practice – ‘hidden’ faces have long been a theme in his work. Breuning’s food faces have been publicized across the world – including Australia’s National Gallery of Victoria in 2017, and The Public Art Fund in 2019. Together with Silent Sound and VFK he published a book containing 500 of his found face photos.

New York is the artist’s adopted home:
Breuning was born in the picturesque town of Schaffhausen in Switzerland, moving to the US city in 2000.

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Olaf Breuning, Clouds, 2013, with The Public Art Fund and Metro Pictures
Photo: James Erwing
save the climate 10_2x
Olaf Breuning, Jean-Michel (Art Freaks), 2011
C-Print
90 x 190 cm
3 Ed. + 2AP

The artist is influenced by the world surrounding him.
Something Olaf often says is: “I eat the world, digest it and out comes my art. It seems like that I need to produce art to satisfy my own understanding of life.”

Breuning’s art features his friends:
Breuning’s Home film trilogy documents his close friend and collaborator Brian Kerstetter –– who encounters humorous and confusing situations in Machu Picchu, Paris, Ghana, Tokyo and more. (See below)

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Still from: Olaf Breuning, HOME 2, 2012, 30:26 Minutes, Starring Brian Kerstetter

Humor is a way to take a step back
“In my point of view it is always good to take a step back (if you can) and look at things from another perspective. Humor is the perfect tool to achieve that. I think it is a rather smart form of communication and connects people with a magical glue of understanding and openness towards each other.” – Olaf Breuning

In the new wood-cut paintings Breuning has manifested his very own form of painting
Being a multimedia artist and working with photography, film, ceramic, print, pencil, ink drawings and now paint, the act of painting was often a tedious and not satisfactory result for Olaf. Developing his own technique by carving objects into massive wooden blocks, painting them and pressing them onto the canvas, allowed him to save white space around the edges of the symbols painted. This almost archaic printing technique creates a rough patina on the canvas, highlighting the physical act involved in the process.

Let’s talk about nature
The impact of humans on nature and our unchecked success in destroying the planet is a recurring theme in Olaf’s work – we see it in his photographic text works or in the woodcut paintings depicting the natural world with water, earth, wind, light and fire to encourage the viewer to confront their own existence and their role in the ecosystem.
The works aim to serve as a call to action, making us question the way we are living with nature.

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Detail of the color patina, created through the printing process
Olaf Breuning
Dune, 2022
Gesso and acrylic on canvas
103 x 81 cm
VB_20220512_Olaf_Breuning-8629
Olaf Breuning, Two Lakes
Exhibition view
von Bartha, Basel

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