"Warren Breninger’s series Expulsion... has been heavily mediated by the artist with colour, collage and reworking. There is no single, defining image or perfectly realized photographic print, but instead a prolonged series of prints that challenge the notion of the ’classic straight single’ photograph..."
Shaune Larkin & Anne O’Hehir (Handcoloured Australian Photography - Artonview, NGA Publication) Autumn 2015
"Australian Warren Breninger depicts (Apparition of Puberty as a Gift Offering, 1986-87) a young fellow with head akilter…holding up in a huge right hand a girlish adolescent figure, nail-biting, looking out morosely, mostly covering herself; her extremities are bluish-gray as if circulation is poor. In between (mid scene) the two hovers a Holy Ghost shape, while in the background is a trinity of illuminated straw flowers in a vase... As if this mysterious, clumsy presentation - ecce ego - with overtones of sexual shame and delicate uncertainty is somehow, in the dark, transfigured into a holy rite of passage with a future. Christians find his artistry difficult, troubling, unpleasant and secular critics dislike his absorbing themes."
Redemptive Art in Society
Calvin Seerveld (Redemptive Art in Society, Dortd College Press, USA) 20145
"Bradbeer and Breninger were pioneers of photomedia art in Australia, who expanded on the artistic potential of photography by combining it with drawing, collage and text."
Pioneers of Photomedia
Stephen Zagala, Curator, Monash Gallery of Art, 2011
"Hail Mary, awarded the 1989 Blake Prize... catapulted the exhibition into its roughest controversy since Rapotec... Had the Blake been forced to cease that year for lack of a sponsor and a new venue, then Breninger’s 'Hail Mary' would have been seen as instrumental in its demise."
The Blake Book
Rosemary Crumlin (extract from book) 2011
"Breninger’s Expulsion epitomises the process of the collapse of boundaries. His Eve challenges all the visual conventions... His image lacks the traditional visual cues such as setting, gestures or narrative hints that would specify identity."
Framing the Story
Claire Renkin (Catalogue essay: 'Tricksters, Victors and (M)others', Jewish Museum of Australia) 2009
"Warren Breninger uses the medium of photography and painting in his explorations and portrayal of the figure. He treats the two mediums as interchangeable... there is an element of 19th Century Romanticism in both the subject and the way... The picture has a shadowy but powerful appearance as with many of the artist’s vignette works from the 90’s."
Vehicle of Expression
Katrina Rumley (Text: 'Fifty Plus' - Half a Century of Collecting at Muswellbrook RAG) 2008
"While there is a Christ like surrender in the pose, Breninger’s Eve also has a strong correlation with Edvard Munch’s Madonna, both visually and in terms of the obsessive process by which the artist revisits the image."
Judy Annear & Elizabeth Maloney (Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection) 2007
"As a lecturer in sculpture had its great rewards as students have an ability to keep lecturers on their toes... from a list too long to type he remembers interesting and challenging students such as Warren Breninger, Godwin Bradbeer and Stelarc at Caulfield."
Ken Scarlett (Limited Recall - A Fictional Autobiography, Macmillan Art Publishing) 2005
"For Breninger, the face holds particular importance as a symbol of humanity. As he writes: 'The face... remains the true signifier, our dry Achille’s heel where joy and woe keep swapping seats, where even in great reluctance our entire being strains to taste the heaving breast of God, and suck the exquisite milk His sigh contains'."
Isobel Crombie (Catalogue - Second Sight: 'Australian Photography' in the National Gallery of Victoria) 2002
"Not all the works in the show are inspiring. There are some horrors that lower the spirits, such as Warren Breninger’s ‘Figure as Mirage’."
Hang-ups and Hang-outs
Robert Nelson (Review: 'The Age', Male Nude - Charles Nodrum Gallery) 2001
"There is a sense of distance and uncompromising estrangement in the piece which yet shows a fascination with the labour of bringing forth life. There is softness and love, as I see it, with the hardness."
Art as Metaphor for Childbirth
Calvin Seerveld, 'The Necessity of Christian Public Artistry' from 'The Art, Community and Cultural Democracy', Macmillan Press, p45, 2000
"Breninger’s luminescent painting technique... uses random drip marks and gestural brushstrokes... Recent works explore the theme of intimate and loving proximity to another person - the dissolving of boundaries, the erotic aspects of touch, issues of power and self-gratification, recognition of faithfulness and loyalty and ultimately the fear of loss. These issues make for a potent exploration of the dynamics of sexual relationships."
Nevill Drury (Images 3: 'Contemporary Australian Painting', Craftsman House) 1998
"Facsimile' suggests two associations, appropriate and inappropriate to Warren Breninger. Its literal translation of 'similar face' is in accord with Breninger's 88 visages - 'The Resurrection of the Living and the Dead'. He explored seriality since early sequences of 'Joan of Arc' and 'Expulsion of Eve'"
Godwin Bradbeer (Exhibition Statement, 'Facsimile', RMIT Project Space) 1998
"At the other end of the scale Warren Breninger mixed poetry and intestines to dramatic effect in ‘Figures of Speech No 5’, a work in mixed media on Cibachrome."
Drawn from Experience
Giles Auty (Review: 'Weekend Australian' - Kedumba Drawing Award) 1997
"The Mouth in Gates of Prayer of Prayer is many mouths. It is firstly the mouth of Hannah, a barren woman in the Bible’s book of Samuel, gestures in silent agony to God in hope of bearing a child. However, the orifice of spiritual symbolism is also an ordinary place, a daily entry point for sustenance and an origin of sound. Breninger’s heavily worked and reworked photographs of his own and his wife’s lips constitute a personal statement about the gamut of experiences lived out on one body. The mouth is a site of extreme pleasure and pain - it grimaces and grins, pouts and peckers, smirks and smiles, trembles and closes tight. It is one of the most sensitive organs of the body. Breninger’s obsession with the human visage is not exceptional. It is, however, uniquely disturbing and... functions as a metonym for humanity at large, with its primitive needs, mortal flesh and fallible ego. Its contortions echo our own dreams, fears, doubts and assertions. For Breninger, the human body is not a happy body, but one tormented by the extreme responsibilities and ecstasy of being alive."
Christ’s Wounds, the Sublime and the Ordinary
Anna Clabburn (Catalogue Essay: Stigma) 1997
"His work highlights the fragility and beauty of humanity. Stripped of adornment... they point beyond the physical world of appearances. They are potent symbols of hunger, sacrifice, abuse and vulnerability."
Rachel Oliver 'Reclaiming the Future: Art and Christian Creativity in a Post-Modern World', CSAC Edt Lambert & Mitchell 1996
"He represents a world in which there is a rift between appearance and what is real... His aesthetic dependence on the body is countered by his partly obliterating the image... The paradox of growth through effacement is a tenet of his religious belief."
On the Edge
Gael Newton and Anne O’hehir (On the Edge: 'Australian Photographers of the 70’s', National Gallery of Australia & San Diego Museum of Art) 1995
"Working over 2-D photographs with paint he re-animates the flatness... in exhaustive series of images... yet deliberately disrupts tradition. Breninger's women represent the documented margins of human experience... the ambiguity of these figures in relation to the symbolic power (or weakness) of woman is responsible for their evocative presence. These Nudes cannot be ignored or dismissed easily."
Anna Clabburn (Sara Weis Award Catalogue, Heidi Park and art Gallery) 1992
"Breninger’s five images of The Sick Child (1985-89) rely on a layer of naturalism that is the explicit quality of the body when photographed, which is then romanticized by... the painterly tradition."
Elizabeth Gertsakis (ACCA Catalogue Text: 'Artists with Children') 1992
"Breninger’s attention constantly flits between the flesh and the spirit; at times his paintwork has an almost Baroque exuberance and sensuality, but his most emphatic images deny one the pleasure of aggressive technique."
The Expense of Art
Christopher Heathcote (Review: The Age, ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’ - Charles Nodrum Gallery) 1992
"One very significant omission – Warren Breninger. His harsh religious and sexual imagery, so full of passion and doubt, would have given this rather bloodless show a dimension of human vulnerability. Angry or confessional imagery is not on the curatorial agenda these days."
Few Demands on Viewer
Greg Neville (Review: 'The Age: Twenty Contemporary Australian Photographers', NGV) 1990
"He has employed the unusual technique of photographically transferring two of his own paintings onto large sheets of paper and reworking the images. There is a great deal of ambiguity in the expression and pose of both Mary’s."
John McDonald (Review: 'Sydney Morning Herald', Blake Prize, Dec) 1989
"Breninger has placed himself outside the mainstream of current Australian painting in many ways; he has ignored the established boundaries between photography, drawing and painting... his view is out of tune with a world sceptical and apathetic about religion... Because of this, Breninger is likely to have a continuous struggle for the recognition that his work rightly deserves."
Images of Religion
Rosemary Crumlin (Catalogue: 'Images of Religion in Australian Art') 1988
"Breninger... has never demonstrated the contraints of a medium, moving freely from painting, drawing, sculpture and photography with various combinations. This... work offers the same spiritual qualities of previous work on paper and canvas... that has demonstrated a mature sensibility with ethereal properties."
Legitimate Child Transcends Tradition
Pamela Irving (Review: 'Geelong Advertiser', Geelong Art Gallery) 1988
"Warren Breninger startles and bewitches by his bold, stained-glass mix of acrylic, oil and Cibachrome."
On an Escalator
Beatrice Faust (Review: 'Thousand Mile Stare', ACCA, The Age, March) 1988
"In Breninger’s large-scale, manipulated image of a head, the artist has selected a bodily gesture conveying a state of intensely heightened feeling... the marks and gestures on the face indicate states of consciousness. For Breninger, mind is either exalted in recognition of the divinity... or grimacing with realisation of loss... of all the work in this exhibition, Breninger’s opaque imagery is least concerned with the material conditions of history."
The Marvellous Mundane
Linda Hicks-Williams (Catalogue Essay - 'The Thousand Mile Stare', Curator-Joyce Agee) 1988
"The human face is virtually the sole element in his artistic language. Nothing else seems to matter to him... Yet Breninger has put his manipulative techniques to a markedly different purpose to that apparent in the works of, say, Micky Allan or Robyn Stacey. These photographically based works in fact reach back to late 19th Century symbolism and early expressionism for their themes and images. It is in short, with states of being that Breninger is wholly concerned."
The Many Faces
Gary Catalano (Review of 'Union and Eclipse’) 1987
"Subjects are created and transformed, by paint and crayon, knife and camera; they are constantly overworked and refined. Shapes are presented, reinterpreted and repeated within one work or across several works. The sources, techniques and materials create perceptions of the human and imply a complex definition of the human being-his real subject."
Dawn Mendham (Text: 'The Refining Fire', Albatross Books) 1987
"Melbourne also nurtured the major photographers of the 70’s, including Bill Henson... and Warren Breninger, whose portraits ‘manipulated‘ with coloured ink, crayon and pencil, presaged the style that would smuggle photography into the fine art galleries."
Stormy Tale of Two Cities
John Baxter (Photography: '...Tale of Two Cities With Different Views' The Bulletin, July) 1986
"Breninger’s outstanding achievement is his Expulsion of Eve Series, a continuing project. The extraordinary concatenation of techniques, painting, gouging, and collaging; project as well as depict a quasi-medieval and agonised conception of the human condition."
Decade of Australian Photography
Ian North ('A Decade of Australian Photography' 1972-82, National Gallery of Australia) 1984
"A great deal of contemporary work... is in fact, ,more the result of a process of exploring, redefining and extending photographic issues than an attempt to represent a person, place or event... Breninger stretched this idea almost to some boundary, when he simply worked on the same image... more than forty versions of it."
Christine Godden (Text: 'Anything Goes', Edited by Paul Taylor, Art & Text) 1984
"Not simply figuration versus non-figuration, but more precisely human figuration versus the picture plane. Within this context... I discuss Warren Breninger... My intention is to examine the intellectual and aesthetic manoeuvres of an artist confronting contradictory desires (security and liberty) within himself, and paradoxical conditions (order and disorder) beyond himself... and the paradoxical desires at the root of Breninger’s art, initiate the dialectic that links an artist to his audience..."
The Discrete Human Figure
Godwin Bradbeer (Fine Arts Thesis - 'The Discrete Human Figure in the Work of Warren Breninger') 1984
"...the initial photograph is just the starting point for intense personal artistic statements. This is imagery free of gimmickry, where the methodology can be ignored in the impact of the expression. The initial impact on walking in... is of entering a room of miniature Italian frescoes; of eroded surfaces and saintly faces."
Free of Gimmickry
Anthony Clarke (Review of 'There is No Escape', Photographers Gallery) 1983
"It is evident that these works have nothing in common with most photography which is concerned with visual impressionism, visual records, with objects in the world, social relationships, time space and form. Breninger’s themes are rare in contemporary art - they do have many precedents in art history - and rarer in photography. When such themes are used now it is in accord with parody and irony in mind. Breninger’s work is earnest... its posture is revelatory and formally accomplished."
There is No Escape
Mark Hinderaker (Review of 'There is No Escape') 1983
"Breninger’s exhibition of manipulated photographs was impressive. The show included his well known Eve Series, and some extremely personal works dealing with his family, which showed a marked debt to Symbolism."
Island Imagery, Other Imagery
Jonathan Holmes (Article: 'Australian Art Review' Edited by Leon Paroissien) 1983
"He is that rarity in Australia, a religious artist... Breninger’s work is important for its own sake and for what it reveals about contemporary photography."
The Photographers: Media Mixers
Craig McGregor (Article: 'National Times', March 21-27) 1982
"These pictures have all the feel of Byzantine religious paintings... the features move in and out of focus much like the painted relics of earlier centuries whose original painting has been obliterated by the random peeling off of the paint surface. This effect is accentuated by the fact that Breninger re-photographed his slashed and ruptured faces, thereby distancing the viewer and giving the feeling one is looking at a picture of a picture, past."
Photography and Then
Marion Hardman (Article: 'Human Torment', Hobart Mercury, Tasmania) Oct 1982
"The Title of the work is from the Book of Judges, Chapter 16, verse 26, the last words spoken by Samson. The title emphasises... physical suffering to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Often the surfaces of his paintings are cut and lacerated as though emulating the suffering of a saint’s flagellation."
Let me Feel the Pillars on which the House Stands
Robert Lindsay (Catalogue: Selected Works from the Michell Endowment’, NGV.) 1979
"The recent photographs of Warren Breninger and Godwin Bradbeer look... rather arty and contrived. Heavy with messages of despair, death and decadence, the montage type arrangements of old postcards, drawings, blow-up images and writings generally ends up being a very confused (albeit sometimes elegant) surreal muddle."
Arty and Contrived
Sandra McGrath (Review of 'Recent Photographs', Australian Centre of Photography) 1978
"A renaissance mood is evoked more subtly by Warren Breninger’s graceful nudes standing before pillars, their flayed transparent flesh incised by delicate veinous lines"
Mary Eagle ( Review of 'Capital Permanent Award', Geelong Art Gallery) 1977
"Warren Breninger... is trying to do something immensely difficult: collages of photographs, drawing, printed words are easy to do, but hard to do well. If he is prepared to invest as much sweat in his work as anguish, and as much intelligence as emotion, he could produce magnificent work. His feeling for suffering humanity, is unique at a time when most people are sucked in by disembodied, anti-human mysticism."
Small Harpoon for a Huge Con
Beatrice Faust (Review of 'Eyelid on Eyelid', Brummels Gallery), 1976
"Two unknown artists, Warren Breninger and Godwin Bradbeer... work together with the zeal of religious reformers, conducting a kind of auto-de-fe, a purge of the material world, of abstract art and all that goes with these... an extraordinary exhibition."
A Couple of Revivalists
Alan McCulloch (Review of 'Fragments of the Human Race', Gryphon Gallery) 1976
"In some ways the show is a technical tour de force... Punctuating the show one finds photographs of a technical inadequacy which would leave the purists dumbfounded. Yet these effects are ...quite deliberate... their very clumsiness adding urgency to the sometimes beautiful poetry which is scrawled across roughly over the print. The exhibition is crowded and rough. Yet there have been few exhibitions lately where treatment and presentation has been more apt. The kind of show that leaves one imagining its potential as a book."
John Williams (Review of 'Mortal Trash is Immortal Diamond', Brummels Gallery) 1975
"...whose ‘Hermaphrodite’ I found less hermaphroditic than the Gallo-like figure in cast polyester resin by Warren Breninger."
No Easy Success
Alan McCulloch (Review of 'Nine Young Sculptors', The Age Gallery) 1971