Daniel Breda: Beyond Space

Combining painting, virtual reality and a ball pit, Daniel Breda asks us to playfully question the spaces we occupy. Rose of Sharon Leake writes.

For Daniel Breda, wood is as important to his painting process as canvas. Tactile, functional and sturdy, wood presents for Daniel an avenue for painting that traditional canvas or paper denies: the potential for space. Interested in how we move through and experience art, Daniel’s work reflects the juxtaposition of natural and contrived spaces within urban environments.

It all started on the South Coast train line from Wollongong to Sydney, his daily commute to attend the National Art School where he completed his Masters of Fine Art in 2016.

“As the train approached the city,” he recalls, “the balance of nature and architecture began to tilt towards the man-made, creating fewer and fewer glimpses of nature amongst the controlled chaos of a metropolis city.” This intersection of contrasting spaces has since influenced not only what Daniel paints, but what he paints it onto.

Today, Daniel’s work is part carpentry, part painting as he challenges his audience to interact with his work rather than simply view it from afar. “After installing one of my first interactive works,” he says, “I found that attendees were still hesitant to stand on top of and inside of the painting. There was an uncertainty evident in the participants, whether they were allowed, or not allowed to stand on top of a painting, even though it was clearly invited.”

Using the space delineated by gallery walls and floors, Daniel plays with perspective, line and shape to blur physical boundaries in an attempt to challenge our natural understanding of space. While Daniel credits this interest to a concept outlined in Marinetti’s 1909 Futurist manifesto titled Dynamic Sensation, there is a much more tangible interest that has led him to create such physically complex works.

“I am constantly picking up things like unloved tables, cupboards and various shipping crates that have been thrown out in the Wollongong area,” he says. Such objects become the backbone of each painting, allowing Daniel to create voids of positive and negative space on which to apply his many
layers of paint.

Yet his experimentation with space doesn’t stop here. Recently Daniel has worked collaboratively with virtual reality developer and friend Brennan Hatton to produce virtual reality works to take his interest in natural and contrived space to new heights.

While Daniel’s expanded painting practice is driven by his experimentation with material, the undoubtable skill involved in the creation of each work has earned our attention. His solo exhibition titled Art As Activity will show at Wollongong’s Project Contemporary Artspace in late March 2021.

Featured image: Daniel Breda, (Non) Place 4. Acrylic on recycled pine and MDF, 560 x 220 x 220cm. Courtesy: the artist.

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