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Koos Breukel »

Fair face

Exhibition: – 31 Oct 2010

MEP - Maison Européenne de la Photographie

4/7 rue de Fourcy
75004 Paris

MEP - Maison Européenne de la Photographie

5/7 rue de Fourcy
75004 Paris



Wed, Fri 11:20; Thu 11-22:00; Sat, Sun 10-20

From 1982 to 1986, Koos Breukel studied at the School of Fine Art at the Hague, and then began to work as a freelance photographer based in Amsterdam. He specialised in portraiture, and his work was published in magazines such as OOR (music) and Quote (finance). In 1992 he had a serious car accident, a decisive event in his approach to photography and particularly the portrait as an intimate revelation of personal injury. He taught at the Rietveld Academy, which enabled him to approach his work from a new angle: “I abandoned all form of ambition and pretension. I got back to basics, to the moment when you see a photo appear for the first time in a developing bath and feel the magic of what photography is all about”. In 1994, he published his first monograph Wretched Skin, followed in 1996 by Hyde, which featured photographs of his friend Michael Matthews, a poet and performer suffering from AIDS, whom he photographed until his death. Breukel also accompanied another of his childhood friends, Eric Hamelink, through illness, an experience that is indissociable from his work as a whole. “Reality is always harder than photography, and also more ephemeral. I try to tame this harshness, and the image then becomes an interpretation. The aesthetic inherent in all art enables us to depict scenes that are actually atrocious. One might say that art attempts to translate the unbearable, the horror of human existence, into one form or another of beauty”. The next series are devoted to the survivors of the plane accident in Faro, Portugal, to farmers affected by the foot and mouth eipidemic, and blind people wearing eye prosthetics (“Cosmetic View”). All are portraits of victims of particularly traumatic events. His latest images bring together photographers and artists: Sally Mann, Rineke Dikjstra, Lucian Freud, photographed full length, from the back, or just hinted at via a small detail. The dramatic tension is just as strong in these portraits of personalities who reveal their innermost selves with great honesty. Curators: Elisabeth Nora and Willem Van Zoetendaal