In this new body of works William Breen explores the streets of Fitzroy, capturing the early morning light and the instantly recognisable graffitied walls of the area in his meticulous oil paintings. While each painting is devoid of people, there is always some evidence of activity- a bike chained up, a door ajar, a glowing neon OPEN light. In capturing and recontextualising this urban landscape in a gallery setting, Breen is also capturing a social and cultural moment, making further intervention and change impossible. Framing this moment in time, the stillness and quietude expresses both a moment of significance and the promise of possibility.
From the utter stillness of Vermeer's domestic scenes to the haunting pre-dawn activities in Georgio Di Chirico enigmatic landscapes, painters have a unique ability to manipulate the scenes they depict. The urban landscapes of William Breen reveal such a confidence, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Having deliberately removed any trace of human life, traffic or debris from his scenes, Breen transforms the normally bustling streets of inner city Melbourne into dreamlike landscapes of uncanny quiet. Captured in what appears to be the near horizontal light of early morning, these uninhabited built environments take on an immobile quality. Breen succeeds in halting the moment, freeing it from the urgencies and anxieties of the everyday. (Excerpt from Infinity by Phe Luxford)
Earlier works of Breen's featured buildings with a frontal face to the viewer. These latest works opens up the streetscape, allowing the viewer to enter into sidestreets and around corners and providing tantalising glimpses of sundrenched facades and businesses yet to open.
About the artist
Flinders Lane Gallery first exhibited William Breen’s paintings in 2000. He has been a finalist in the John Leslie Art Prize,the Geelong Art Prize and the Fleurieu Peninsula Biennale Art Prize. His paintings are in collections including the Gippsland Art Gallery, RACV Collection, Artbank, and La Trobe University.
More information on William Breen's practice and a link through to his cv can be found here.