Kate Breakey

Breakey

Photography is a necessary, inevitable component of her project. Certainly these images would reverberate much differently if they did not give us clues to their photographic basis. By the same token, they would echo in quite different fashion if they prioritized impartial observation over poetic engagement and interpretation. Of the media she blends in her work, Breakey says, "I begin with a photograph — a highly convincing illusion, a map of reality, a piece of evidence rendered in silver-grey tones. This I smear and coat with oil paint in many transparent layers — the layers of emotional subjectivity — lies, dreams, delusions, exaggerations and embellishments. If I am lucky the media combine, become enmeshed and inseparable, a curious marriage of what might be real and what is imagined or desired. They now collude to play with my perceptions about what truth is, my favourite game. I am a sensualist. I admit to my seduction by texture, colour, light and form. It is my deepest pleasure, my lovely addiction.

Golden Stardust Statement

The Element 'Gold, (Au) can only be made in the nuclear reactor of stars. It came to our planet when the Earth was first forming, as dust from catastrophic astronomical events —stars imploding and ejecting energy, as light and matter. The events that produce most of the gold in the universe are called 'Gamma Ray Bursts'. This occurs when a double star consisting of two neutron stars collapses under the force of gravity. Neutron stars are the cores of dead stars. They are only a few miles in diameter; so dense that every last bit of matter has been compressed down to the density of the atomic nucleus. The two dead, dark stars spin around each other for millions of years at millions of miles per hour, constantly pulling each other closer. Then finally they touch. At that moment more energy is released than the rest of the universe combined. Much of their mass collapses into a black hole and leaves our universe forever, but the rest is released in an enormous explosion of gamma rays and newly-formed elements. Some of that star-dust flung into space is gold. The gold in the Earth's crust was carried here on asteroids that hit the earth, during the 'Late Heavy Bombardment' 3.8 billion years ago when the Earth gained most of its mass. The Ancient Egyptians believed that gold was the flesh of their Sun god 'Ra'. I was struck by the beauty and brightness, the depth of Orotones, which were first made in the early 20th century by, among others, Pillsbury and Edward Curtis. My work is a contemporary version of an Orotone. The image a digitally printed on UV Art glass with 24kt gold leaf applied to the back.

The softness of a cardinals feather; the arc of a quails head; the stoic glance of a lifeless bird; the position of a wilted petal; the explosive color of a flower after it blooms. Extinction never looked more beautiful than through the eyes of Kate Breakey, whose large scale painted photographs of decaying flowers and lifeless birds pay homage to death and the remaining spirits that persist.

Kate Breakey first conceived of this project in 1995 as a visiting lecturer at the University of Texas, when she tried to rescue a sparrow from the claws of a cat. As she said in a 1999 interview, "I realized I couldn't help the circumstances of its death, but I could memorialize it in a photograph." This realization gave birth to a project which has spanned more than nine years and can be seen in two books, Small Deaths (1997) and Flowers/Birds, her recent 2003 monograph.

Like the early practitioners of nature morte or mementos mori paintings and photographs, Breakey embraces death as part of life, understanding their parallels. She is careful to present these small deaths as they appeared in reality, photographing her subjects and then painstakingly painting each feather and stamen its true natural color. Enlarging them to 32 x 32", Breakey paints back the colors death has absorbed, using oil paint and colored pencils. These larger-than-life portraits act as memorials to the small creatures found within the desert of Tucson (where she now lives) and in packages sent from friends all over the country. The resulting images are both startlingly beautiful and arresting, as small creatures and objects gain a heroic status. Through Breakey's art, we confront our own mortality and the fears or solace it elicits.

As she stated in the afterword in Small Deaths: "I began to pick things up to keep and examine; I collected rocks, shells, feathers, birds' nests, nuts and pods, and with great reverence labeled, ordered, and displayed them in my little glass case. Visits with my father to the natural history museum in Adelaide filled me with awe and envy and the knowledge that the world was brimming with fantastic, mysterious, beautiful things. But there was another lesson to be learned about nature - a more difficult one: nature is as cruel and brutal as it is magnificent. For every miraculous and marvelous event there is also suffering, slaughter and death."

Kate Breakey was born in Adelaide, South Australia and moved to the United States in 1988. Her work is part of numerous private and public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego, CA) and Austin Museum of Art (Austin, TX). This is her first solo show in Chicago.

All images are are available as 32 x 32" gelatin silver prints, hand-colored with oils and pencil in an edition of 10. Pieces range in price from $3000 to $7000, depending on where they are in the edition.

Golden Stardust images are Orotones (prints on glass with gold leaf) framed by the artist made in an edition of 20. Image sizes vary. Pieces range in price from $900 to $1800, depending on size.

Please call: (312) 266-2350 for prices of specific pieces.
Prices are print only unless otherwise indicated.

Alyogyne hakeisolia, Australian Hibiscus
Kate Breakey
Alyogyne hakeisolia, Australian Hibiscus, 2004
American Robin
Kate Breakey
American Robin, 1988/2000
Arizona Prickly Poppy
Kate Breakey
Arizona Prickly Poppy, 2006
Arum Lily II
Kate Breakey
Arum Lily II, 1999
Australian Raven
Kate Breakey
Australian Raven, 2006
Barrel Cactus Flower
Kate Breakey
Barrel Cactus Flower, 1998/2000
Beach Willunga
Kate Breakey
Beach Willunga, 2014 - 2015
Big Cloud, Arizona
Kate Breakey
Big Cloud, Arizona, 2014 - 2015
Bird of Paradise
Kate Breakey
Bird of Paradise, 1999
Birds on a Wire
Kate Breakey
Birds on a Wire, 2014 - 2015
Black Tulip
Kate Breakey
Black Tulip, 2014 - 2015
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Kate Breakey
Black-chinned Hummingbird, 1998/1999
Blue Jug
Kate Breakey
Blue Jug, 2014 - 2015
Blue Morpho
Kate Breakey
Blue Morpho, 2004
Blue Morpho Butterfly
Kate Breakey
Blue Morpho Butterfly, 2014 - 2015
Border Carnation (Pink)
Kate Breakey
Border Carnation (Pink), 1996/1998
Carnation (Red)
Kate Breakey
Carnation (Red), 1996/1998
Cedar Wax Wing II
Kate Breakey
Cedar Wax Wing II, 2000/01
Chrysanthemum
Kate Breakey
Chrysanthemum, 2014 - 2015
Coast of Sardinia, Italy
Kate Breakey
Coast of Sardinia, Italy, 2014 - 2015
Common Grackle
Kate Breakey
Common Grackle, 1998/1999
Common Sulfur Butterfly
Kate Breakey
Common Sulfur Butterfly, 2014 - 2015
Cone Shell after Rembrandt
Kate Breakey
Cone Shell after Rembrandt, 2014 - 2015
Coreopsis
Kate Breakey
Coreopsis, 2001/2002
Cyanocitta cristata, Blue Jay
Kate Breakey
Cyanocitta cristata, Blue Jay, 2000
Dandelion
Kate Breakey
Dandelion, 2014 - 2015
Desert Chicory
Kate Breakey
Desert Chicory, 2001/2002
Desert Gobe Mallow II
Kate Breakey
Desert Gobe Mallow II, 1999
Desert Mallow
Kate Breakey
Desert Mallow, 2000/2001
Dove in Tree
Kate Breakey
Dove in Tree, 2014 - 2105
Dragonfly
Kate Breakey
Dragonfly, 2014 - 2015
Erskin Falls, Victoria Australia
Kate Breakey
Erskin Falls, Victoria Australia, 2014 - 2015
Fiddleneck
Kate Breakey
Fiddleneck, 2006
Five Birds in Tree
Kate Breakey
Five Birds in Tree, 2014 - 2015
Five Figs
Kate Breakey
Five Figs, 2014 - 2015
Fluted Coffee Pot
Kate Breakey
Fluted Coffee Pot, 2014 - 2015
Funnel and Oil Can
Kate Breakey
Funnel and Oil Can, 2014 - 2015
Gannet
Kate Breakey
Gannet, 2014 - 2015
Gerber Daisy
Kate Breakey
Gerber Daisy, 1998/2000
Gila Woodpecker
Kate Breakey
Gila Woodpecker, 2002
Hale Bopp Comet
Kate Breakey
Hale Bopp Comet, 2014 - 2015
Hooded Oriole I
Kate Breakey
Hooded Oriole I, 2004
House Finch
Kate Breakey
House Finch, 1998/2000
Hummingbird on Branch
Kate Breakey
Hummingbird on Branch, 2014 - 2015
Indian Blanket
Kate Breakey
Indian Blanket, 2004
Iris, Purple Bearded Hybrid
Kate Breakey
Iris, Purple Bearded Hybrid, 1999
Lesser Goldfinch I
Kate Breakey
Lesser Goldfinch I, 2001/02
Lesser Goldfinch II
Kate Breakey
Lesser Goldfinch II, 2001/02
Lily IV
Kate Breakey
Lily IV, 2001/02
Little Penguin
Kate Breakey
Little Penguin, 2002/03
Lone Tree, Midlands, UK
Kate Breakey
Lone Tree, Midlands, UK, 2014 - 2015
Lotus
Kate Breakey
Lotus, 2014 - 2105
Lunar Eclipse
Kate Breakey
Lunar Eclipse, 2014 - 2015
Mexican Golden Poppy
Kate Breakey
Mexican Golden Poppy, 2001/02
Microseris
Kate Breakey
Microseris, 2014 - 2015
Mockingbird in Yukka
Kate Breakey
Mockingbird in Yukka, 2014 - 2015
Moonlit Water, Arno Bay
Kate Breakey
Moonlit Water, Arno Bay, 2014 - 2015
Mourning Dove
Kate Breakey
Mourning Dove, 1995/1996
New Holland Honeyeater
Kate Breakey
New Holland Honeyeater, 2002
Northern Cardinal III
Kate Breakey
Northern Cardinal III, 1998
Ocean, South Australia
Kate Breakey
Ocean, South Australia, 2014 - 2015
Orange Sulfur Butterfly
Kate Breakey
Orange Sulfur Butterfly, 1996/1998
Osteospermum II (white)
Kate Breakey
Osteospermum II (white), 2000/2001
Owl Feather
Kate Breakey
Owl Feather, 2014 - 2015
Palo Verde Beetle
Kate Breakey
Palo Verde Beetle, 2014 - 2015
Patch of Light,  South Australia
Kate Breakey
Patch of Light, South Australia , 2014 - 2015
Pear I
Kate Breakey
Pear I, 2014 - 2015
Pear II
Kate Breakey
Pear II, 2014 - 2015
Phainopeplia
Kate Breakey
Phainopeplia, 1996/1998
Pink Dandelion
Kate Breakey
Pink Dandelion, 1998/2000
Pink Earred Duck
Kate Breakey
Pink Earred Duck, 2002/03
Pink hybrid Pompom
Kate Breakey
Pink hybrid Pompom, 1996/1998
Pink Rose (Grandiflora)
Kate Breakey
Pink Rose (Grandiflora), 1999
Pink Roses, Blue Vase
Kate Breakey
Pink Roses, Blue Vase, 2014 - 2015
Pink Tulip
Kate Breakey
Pink Tulip, 1999
Pitcher with Oranges
Kate Breakey
Pitcher with Oranges, 2014 - 2015
Plumbago Flower
Kate Breakey
Plumbago Flower, 2014 - 2015
Pomegranite
Kate Breakey
Pomegranite, 2014 - 2015
Purple Finch II
Kate Breakey
Purple Finch II, 1998/2000
Ranunculous II
Kate Breakey
Ranunculous II, 2002
Rock Dove
Kate Breakey
Rock Dove, 1998/1999
Rosa, Hybrid Tea Rose III
Kate Breakey
Rosa, Hybrid Tea Rose III, 1998/2000
Rosa, Stirling Silver
Kate Breakey
Rosa, Stirling Silver, 2006
Rose
Kate Breakey
Rose, 2014 - 2015
Rose of Sharon “Aphrodite”
Kate Breakey
Rose of Sharon “Aphrodite”, 1998/2000
Ruby crowned Kinglet
Kate Breakey
Ruby crowned Kinglet, 2006
Ruby throated Hummingbird
Kate Breakey
Ruby throated Hummingbird, 1988/2000
Running Filly
Kate Breakey
Running Filly, 2014 - 2015
Setting Moon
Kate Breakey
Setting Moon, 2014 - 2015
Seven Finches on Yukka
Kate Breakey
Seven Finches on Yukka, 2014 - 2105
Shiny Shell
Kate Breakey
Shiny Shell, 2014 - 2015
Single Bird in Tree
Kate Breakey
Single Bird in Tree, 2014 - 2015
Single Tree Kew Gardens, London
Kate Breakey
Single Tree Kew Gardens, London, 2014 - 2015
Six Pears
Kate Breakey
Six Pears, 2014 - 2015
Southern Magnolia
Kate Breakey
Southern Magnolia, 2014 - 2015
Spider Chrysanthemum
Kate Breakey
Spider Chrysanthemum, 2006
Sprouting Onion
Kate Breakey
Sprouting Onion, 2014 - 2015
Still Life with Artichokes
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Artichokes, 2003
Still Life with Blueberries
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Blueberries, 1998
Still Life with Bowl of Lemons
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Bowl of Lemons, 2003
Still Life with Bread and Garlic
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Bread and Garlic, 2003
Still Life with Cantaloupe
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Cantaloupe, 2003
Still Life with Cherries
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Cherries, 2003
Still Life with Cherries
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Cherries, 2003
Still Life with Pears
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Pears, 1998
Still Life with Peeled Oranges
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Peeled Oranges, 1998
Still Life with Pomegranates
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Pomegranates, 1993
Still Life with Six Pears
Kate Breakey
Still Life with Six Pears, 2003
The Gift
Kate Breakey
The Gift, 2006
The Kiss
Kate Breakey
The Kiss, 2006
Thistle
Kate Breakey
Thistle, 2000
Three Sheaok Trees, Australia
Kate Breakey
Three Sheaok Trees, Australia, 2014 - 2015
Tree, South of France
Kate Breakey
Tree, South of France, 2014 - 2015
Trees, London
Kate Breakey
Trees, London, 2014 - 2015
Tufted Titmouse
Kate Breakey
Tufted Titmouse, 1995/1996
Two Trees, Birmingham England
Kate Breakey
Two Trees, Birmingham England, 2014 - 2015
Vase with Chinaberries
Kate Breakey
Vase with Chinaberries, 2014 - 2015
Vase with Chrysanthemum
Kate Breakey
Vase with Chrysanthemum, 2014 -2015
Verdin II
Kate Breakey
Verdin II, 2004
Waterlilies
Kate Breakey
Waterlilies, 2014 -2015
White Beardless Iris
Kate Breakey
White Beardless Iris, 1999
White Koi
Kate Breakey
White Koi, 2014 - 2015
White Rose
Kate Breakey
White Rose, 2006
Wood Duck l
Kate Breakey
Wood Duck l, 1998/1999
Yellow Beardless Iris
Kate Breakey
Yellow Beardless Iris, 1998/99
Yellow Breasted Warbler
Kate Breakey
Yellow Breasted Warbler, 2014 - 2015
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Kate Breakey
Yellow Rumped Warbler, 2004
Yellow-throat Warbler II
Kate Breakey
Yellow-throat Warbler II, 1998/2000