Kees Bruin: Visions of the Real is a celebration of the work of Kees Bruin, the New Zealand artist of hyper-real life imagery created through photography, painting and other media based art. Filled with the works of the great artist, the book explores the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of Bruin’s work. Even the book itself is a work of art, beautifully opening up to present the images in full splendour.
For those perhaps a little less familiar with the name Kees Bruin one of the leading lights of the New Zealand art scene. Based in Sumner, Christchurch, the unique and pioneering style of his work has garnered attention both here and around the world. He draws on a variety of influences including the old masters of the craft - Bruin was often referred to as a modern Caravaggio by art critics worldwide - and natural elements from New Zealand’s landscape. Once his Sumner Beach paintings are seen it is hard to not hold them as the central image of the famous beach.
Many of the works have a Judeo-Christian theme, but unlike some of those classic paintings of notable figures in the religion, the characters presented have a more modern look which resonates with a different audience to some of those more traditional images.
The over 200 images in the book are curated from exhibitions and private collections, many of which have never been publicly available prior to this printing. A range of personal drawings of the Bruin family are another outlet for appreciation. The superlative quality of all the images really accentuates the vision and technical prowess of the man behind the paintings.
At times challenging, at times provocative, Bruin’s work takes the world around us and reframes it in a hyper reality that lifts the work from the canvas (or the page in this case) and transcends the bounds of what we, the viewer, thought possible. Every piece is a visionary act of artist magic. Of particular significance is the bridal collection of the 1990s. One can find themselves lost in the majesty of the painting.
It is not hard to understand why Bruin was recognised as such a talent incredibly early in his career. Exhibiting his work with some of the international greats a mere couple of years following graduation, and consistently building on a career that has generated an incredible body of work.
As one who is unlikely to ever be able to afford one of Bruin’s works, it is such a joy to be able to peruse the pages of this beautifully crafted book and spend time immersed in the pieces to consider, reflect and indulge in the wonder that is the artist Kees Bruin.
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Quentin Wilson Publishing