Maquette for Visitor
David Breuer-Weil was born in London in 1965. His father, also an artist, was born in Vienna and fled to England after the Anschluss. A number of Breuer-Weil’s early landscapes are set by beside Lake Holte in Denmark, where his maternal grandfather was killed in 1944. Breuer-Weil grew up in London and studied at St. Martins School of Art under Shelley Faussett (a former assistant to Henry Moore), afterwards attending Clare College, Cambridge. After graduating, he was awarded a bursary at Sotheby’s, which he later referred to as ‘the greatest art school in the world’, and where he worked in many departments. His early ‘Neracian’ drawings – small enough to be stored in stamp albums – were based on an imaginary race that has consistently occupied the landscape of his art, though his later works are monumental in conception and execution.
Breuer-Weil has also lived, worked and exhibited in Israel, the experience contributing to the development of light and colour in his work, as well as working as an art consultant for the Swiss dealers de Pury and Luxembourg. Breuer-Weil nonetheless rejects the commercial in art, writing of an earlier series of works known as Project 3 that he wished to ‘produce colossal, un-commercialized images of existential doubt’.
Breuer-Weil conceived the idea for the first Project in the early nineties, bringing it to fruition in the crypt of the Roundhouse, Camden Town, in 2001. Project 2 followed two years later, held in the South Bank Bargehouse in 2003; and four years on, Project 3 was a Ben Uri exhibition held in a Covent Garden multi-storey car park in 2007. Project 4 (2013), sited in the vaults at Waterloo, is Breuer-Weil’s largest solo project to date and comprises around 130 works, including more than 70 large-scale canvases, sculptures, maquettes and drawings.
Breuer-Weil grew up in North London and lives near Hampstead Heath, a place he considers to be ‘of great mystical power’. This mystical element is strongly alluded to in his work. The maquette for Visitor is the working model for Breuer-Weil’s monumental head of the same title which was exhibited in Beyond Limits – Sotheby’s at Chatsworth House in 2010. The tactile surface reveals the artist’s fingerprints greatly enlarged in order to imply ‘that a higher power has constructed and placed this unearthly figure in this suffocated position’. Visitor I relates closely to Breuer-Weil’s Philosopher paintings, which also feature a large head creating a disturbance in the soil that surrounds it. Of these works, Breuer-Weil has stated that he wanted to express ‘the immense potential power of thought’. He has commented of this piece:
‘By slightly submerging the image I wanted to suggest our connection with the earth. When installed in water, I wanted to give the impression of a figure with far greater potential than what you actually see, and I believe the reflections accentuate that effect. This work is a visual embodiment of thought. Every human being is largely hidden and secret’.
Ben Uri holds three works by Breuer-Weil in the Collection.