Frame 61

Bram Braam

Frame 61
Bram Braam

"I’m trying to create my own reality by looking for the right balance of abstraction, using ordinary things transformed to the point where there are just fragments to see from its origin."


Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practicing artist and where did you study?

I studied graphic design and illustration before art academy, living in Den Bosch, Eindhoven and Utrecht. I was involved in the underground house movement for a long time designing prints for t-shirts and flyers etc, and I was active as a graffiti writer for many years. I started quite late at the Sint Joost AKV in Den Bosch art academy, famous for the autonomous character. My path totally changed during those years at the academy as I realised that I had found the right place. You can still see interests from the past coming back, especially the city, which is one of the main playgrounds I get inspiration from, but I use it in a more conceptual way now.

When I graduated I was very ambitious to start a new life as an artist, right after I graduated in 2009 I came to Berlin with public funding from the Mondriaan Foundation, which made the start a bit easier. Through the years different funding programs have kept on supporting me, besides that I've been working with different galleries such as Frank Taal in Rotterdam and Gallery Burster in Berlin. From early on my goal was to be a full time artist and be able to make a living out of it, and luckily enough I have made it happen.

You create these monolithic like structures with various shapes and sizes, could you talk about your work and your process?

Inspiration comes from our environments, landscapes, cities and our behaviour towards them. Like every artist I think working on new ideas is a non-stop process that's going on seven days a week - making notes, reading articles, making sketches, seeing art, talking about it. I always make sketches in Photoshop where I can spend quite some time to get them as realistic as possible, then I can better visualise if the work is good enough to realise. My girlfriend is an artist too so we discuss the works together to see if they're any good or not, so she has an important role in making some decisions. 

Also walking through the city can give me inspiration, seeing the poetry in ordinary things, making photos and trying to convert them into new ideas. A lot of my work is about different realities, how we look at things or how we see them in digital form or in reality. I’m trying to create my own reality by looking for the right balance of abstraction, using ordinary things transformed to the point where there are just fragments to see from its origin.

City of Tomorrow, 2014, installation

Could you talk about your major installation piece: 'City of Tomorrow'?

I'm interested in the history of architecture, how modernism in architecture came about in the 60's and 70’s. I read about the new town Cumbernauld close to Glasgow in Scotland, a town totally built from scratch with a modernism megastructure as city centre, which is in a miserable state nowadays. People from all over came by to see this miracle when it was built and it got a lot of attention from architects. Nowadays it wins prizes for being the worst building in the UK, and it is indeed in a terrible state. I was interested to see what went wrong, and interested in the notion that however good a masterplan seems at the time, one can never predict how it will evolve in the future.

I was awarded a working grant and went there for a visit. I did research in the local archive and talked with people who were still living in Cumbernauld. I was lucky enough to get in contact with Neville Rea, an ex-resident who gave me a private tour around the whole city, explaining different reasons why it was in this miserable state.

The whole city is built on a hill with constant heavy winds and a lot of rain during the year - a perfect situation for moss to grow on the buildings, so for sure this exact spot on the hill was not the best place to built a mega project. Also when more state owned properties became private it wasn't the best change for the city.

I saw the intention of the project and it has some revolutionary ideas about landscape architecture with a lot of bridges so you never have to cross a motorway, and the megastructure itself is an interesting building, but parts have been torn down a cheap shopping mall has been built against it which makes for a strange and ugly whole. The result of this project was seen in two exhibitions, with photography, sculptures and an installation at Import Projects in Berlin. For the installation you could poke your head in one of two shafts and see a video on a loop. The megastructure has a lot of strange corridors and stairs where you easily can get lost so I made some kind of Esher experience where you keep on walking through these structures without an end, it has a bit of that desolate feeling you get in the stairwell of a parking garage.

City of Tomorrow, 2014, installation

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?

I try to be at my studio around 10 am. I just became a father and right now this is still doable. In my studio I realise all the work, it is really a working place: sawdust, steel, wood, glass, paint, machines. Although I try things out in my studio of course, mostly it is a place to build the work. At home I have my desk where I can spent parts of the day if it is necessary, I workout sketches, make phone calls, write texts and do research for upcoming projects. It is a not to big desk filled up with stacks of paper, books, invoices and all kind off stuff, it looks like a mess but I can work well like this. So the routine depends on if I need to do office work or studio work, but I like to have a normal day routine just like everybody else. I work until 18.30 latest and try to have the weekends free but in busy periods I work over the weekends too.

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

A few art art works that have touched me recently are the works of Michael Sailstorfer and Sterling Ruby.

I love the work from Michael Sailstorfer a lot, he's recently had an exhibition in the Sint Agnes Churge by Konig gallery in Berlin where he showed the work Hitzefrei. A work where he transforms five cars into wood stoves. I like his reconstruction of things into poetic art works.

I saw the installation “The Jungle” from Sterling Ruby some time ago at Sprueth Magers and also touched me in it’s simplicity. His own rough version of a Calder mobile.

What I like about both artists are their strong gestures, in an over theorised art world I feel refreshed to see these strong statements.

Black white, 2016, installation

Black white, 2016, installation

Overview exhibition Welcome to the real world, 2016

Different possibilities of a truth, 2016, sculpture

As if, 2015,  installation

Zwei Türen, 2014, sculpture

A finite slice of infinite space, 2014, sculpture

Where has your work been headed more recently?

In my newest work I play a lot with chance and control. I'm preparing a whole new series of sculptures for my upcoming show in the Netherlands at Cacoa Factory. I give minimalism a new approach, I give it a personality. Like Jeff Koons blowing up his glossy kitschy world and creating a new eye to look at it, I will combine the clean and structured minimalism from the 60's with a personal voice from the streets of Berlin, garbage bins, traffic lights, lamp posts, graffiti , street art. The planned and clean world against a personal touch from it’s citizens, vandalism, and where accidents occur. I mix things up from high culture and low culture and put them in front of each other. The city as one big playground.

How do you go about naming your work?

Finding titles for works can take quite some time and it's different with each one. Partly the the titles are coming from the streets of Berlin, I try to find the poetry within the voice from the city, I do not want them to be political and direct. So I collect these written voices and than they fall together within a work.

Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

Yes it's a very busy time, next month I have four exhibitions planned, I'm really busy with the preparations for my solo presentation at Amsterdam Art Fair which starts on 17th May with Frank Taal gallery.

On 10th of April I'm participating in the group exhibition “ORAKEL DER ABSTRACTEN” curated by Majke Hustege projects in Den Bosch.

Then for Gallery Weekend in Berlin on the 27th April I'll be at the Glue exhibition, and from the 17th of May I'll participate in a group show at Marisa Newman projects In New York, so it's going be a crazy month.

Later this year I'll have a solo exhibition at Cacao Factory in the Netherlands and will participate in exhibitions in Amsterdam, Munich and Hamburg, so please keep yourself updated on my website and hope to see you around.

All images courtesy of the artist, Frank Taal Gallery Rotterdam and gallery Burster Berlin.
Published date: 5/4/17