Olaf Breuning is fascinated with the idea of capturing contemporary social dynamics and expressing his point of view about life in a very simple way. The evidence is in his magical, humorous, and immersive solo show that opened a few weeks ago at Metro Pictures in New York City.
Breuning is a soulful and honest artist looking around at subjects that are, if not significant to everyone, at least familiar to all of us. Based on the fast-paced life of 21st century people -- the interactions that last only seconds, the internet, emojis and social media - the show, aptly called "The Life," is not only relatable but also incredibly candid.
Highly prolific and quite talented in many areas including sculpture, film, photography, drawing, installations and mixed media, Breuning created for this show life-sized circle and oval-shaped sculptures, which show printed-on-metal collaged images. Olaf, his wife, and some of his friends make appearances in those images, situating themselves in a maze that feels fresh and visually stimulating.
The starting point for this show was a cartoonish thought bubble, and that symbol gave birth to the idea of a show where Breuning could encapsulate how saturated and overwhelming is to live in today's big cities, with no time to rest or process the overwhelming amount of information we are exposed to each day. What's even more impressive is that all the images in the sculptures were shot in a corner of Olaf's studio, and from that small space sprang an incredibly immersive installation. One can get lost for hours taking a look at each image and trying to parse the meaning of all the small details and sub-stories that exist within.
As an artist, the decision to do a show like this isn't for the faint of heart: most pieces encompass a non-traditional approach to photography, sculpture and installation and everything has humor, impact and irreverence. This is the way an artist with a lot of confidence works: showing the world a very personal take on society and life as we know it, regardless of how commercial or spatially-viable each individual artwork in the show is. What matters is the sum of the parts, the enthralling and memorable experience of finding new angles every time one walks the gallery.
To say that "The Life" stands out for its uniqueness while digging deeply into mundane life is an understatement. While dozens of shows exhibit generic and indistinguishable abstract paintings and boring takes on conceptual art, Olaf Breuning's "The Life" thrives and delivers.
519 West 24th Street
New York NY 10011
Until July 31st