Bruno V. Roels is a contemporary artist who uses analogue technology in his picture-making. Taking photographs of seemingly arbitrary objects, abbreviated or cropped within the picture frame, the artist’s hand develops and prints silver gelatin photographs on a vintage-looking paper that he then assembles into compositions within a frame.
Inspired by the American conceptual artist John Baldessari, there is an underlying surrealist sensibility to much of Roels’ practice. Bruno V. Roels employs a playful, tongue-in-cheek tone throughout his work, whilst challenging the characteristics that traditionally define a photographic practice. Wanting to move away from the ‘tyranny of camera viewfinders’ and a tradition of photography that is defined by the technology and materials used, Roels instead focuses on the act of printing, not with the goal of creating a perfect print, but instead presenting all prints created as equal.
In this way Roels takes a democratic view on imagemaking. By focusing his practice on repetitive images loaded with symbolic meaning – a palm tree, a pyramid – he creates multiple prints of the same image printed lighter or darker, with printing errors and light spills, and presents the variations found between these multiples as equal.
Bruno V. Roels’ work layers language, history and symbolism within the printed repetition of a single image. For the artist, a palm tree may be simply a palm tree when pictured in a single image, but when created in tens or hundreds in a single frame within a series of works of the same symbolic theme, the palm tree becomes disentangled from its original meaning and challenges the viewer to find new associations through the artist’s pointed visual reiteration. Bruno V. Roels’ practice challenges how we apply value and meaning to an image within a work of art.