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  • Provenance

    Gallery FIFTY ONE, Antwerp
    Private Collection, Beirut

  • Literature

    Bruno V. Roels: I Dreamt an Island, Antwerp: Gallery FIFTY ONE, 2015, pp. 82-83

  • Catalogue Essay

    672 tiny iterations of a palm tree’s fronds explode out of the frame, a dark swathe of prints cutting through the softly toned upper and lower sections, producing a layer of visual abstraction. In A Palm Tree is A Palm Tree is A Palm Tree (672 Tiny Explosions) Bruno V. Roels creates a multifaceted composition from the repetition of a single image printed from one negative. Using darkroom techniques such as toning, solarising, dodging and burning, he prints a single motif in multiple variations. Each print is warm toned to avoid harsh contrasts and the imperfections in its trimming reveal the physical process of creation. Roels plays with photography’s inherent capability of infinite replication, reproducing a single image, in the case of the present work 672 times, and mounting them together in a grid to form a unified work: ‘the irony is that by using the essence of photography (it can be reproduced) I create “original” pieces: it is impossible for me to make the same composition twice.’

    The title A Palm Tree is A Palm Tree is A Palm Tree is a play on Gertrude Stein’s famous phrase ‘A Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose’, which Roels says highlights how ‘the name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it.’ The palm tree is a recurring motif in his work. Rather than photographing the entire plant, he prefers to focus on a detail. For him ‘palm trees evoke history, exotic locations, luxury, freedom, an Indiana-Jones-like mystery’. To date, the work offered here is one of only three containing 600 to 700 prints and is the largest in terms of overall size; the other two works are held privately. Roels has exhibited widely and his work is held in various collections, including Milwaukee Art Museum and The Walther Collection, New York/Neu-Ulm.



A Palm Tree is A Palm Tree is A Palm Tree (672 Tiny Explosions)

Unique work, comprising 672 gelatin silver prints mounted to board.
Overall: 148 x 88.3 cm (58 1/4 x 34 3/4 in.)
Frame: 179 x 109 cm (70 1/2 x 42 7/8 in.)

Signed, titled and dated in ink on the reverse of the mount.

This work is unique.

£15,000 - 20,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £16,250

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+33 1 53 71 77 87

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098

ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales

London Auction 18 May 2018