For the sixth edition of PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai we warmly welcomed back Per van der Horst Gallery (The Hague & Taipei) who displayed the works of dutch photo-based artist Bas Meeuws (b. 1974). Meeuws draws inspiration from Dutch 17th Century masters who delicately painted beautifully arranged flowers in bloom. Jan Brueghel the Elder, Ambrosius Bosschaert and Roelandt Savery are some of the most recognised painters of the period, a time where botanical gardens in the Netherlands emerged and the popularity of tulips in the region surged.
What was so fascinating about these paintings was their subjects inconsistency with the seasons - the artwork consisted of flowers that are unable to bloom at the same time as one another, “a botanical impossibility” speaks Sooke (Telegraph, 2016). The artists had in fact constructed the paintings from years of individual studies, in order to create the most extravagant, elegant assortment. Meeuws’ work mimics this layering technique in a contemporary fashion by capturing each flower on his camera then digitally arranging them, refining every detail until perfection is reached.
We are pleased to present you with our on-site #ArtistTakeover with Bas Meeuws from PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai 2019. The artist informs our audience about his post-production method and the inspiration for his work...
“Hi, this is Bas Meeuws from PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai. I’m a Dutch photo-based artist and I’m well known for my classical still lifes. I am really inspired by the Dutch 17th Century masters, I would say that I have the same workflow as them: I do not take photographs of bouquets, rather I make collages from the individual photographs which I take. I can then experiment with proportions, which is very similar to the techniques of those masters, combined with the 21st century techniques of digital photography.
It’s great that my work is being exhibited here at PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai. My work is represented by Per van der Horst Gallery, based in The Hague and Taipei. Since art is a really universal language, I think it is really important that galleries from all over the world should be showcased here at the Fair.
"My photography is not traditional, I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, I’m a photo-based artist!"
When starting a composition like this one for instance [points at Hommage A Sanyu (#01) 2017 - above], I had a painting by Sanyu as a basis, I then chose the pot on the table as you can see, and I would start to build up the stems of the composition. I would always look really closely at Sanyu’s painting, and try to determine what kind of flowers he might have been using. From that analysis, I would pick my hyper-realistic photographs of flowers and arrange them to somehow pretend that his painting has come alive as a real piece of nature.
My photography is not traditional, I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, I’m a photo-based artist! Nowadays, photography can mean anything as long as you use images as your base, such as Julie Cockburn who is being shown by Flowers Gallery at PHOTOFAIRS - she incorporates embroidery into her work. My photographs are really stitched together, digitally. I would say 5% of my time is spent on the actual photography at most, and the rest is post-processing and making the composition as perfect as I want it to be.
Currently I’m working on several series, all photo-based works. Since 2019 I’ve been working on a new series called ‘Fallen’ which shows tree trunks from fallen trees. This series is about climate change and the consequences for nature such as the decrease of biodiversity. I’m still not satisfied with the results so they are still under construction. Simultaneously, I have been expanding my Hommage à Sanyu series.
In my Hommage à Sanyu series (2017- present) I wish to express a photographical transition of Sanyu’s floral painting, like they have come alive. When I first saw his paintings in 2017 I immediately was struck by the simplicity and outstanding beauty of his work. I had to reinvent myself once again while working on the first works. The background has become more like a multi-layered version by using digital painting techniques with all different levels of transparency.
These works are really on the dividing line of photo-based collages and painting. I wish to experiment even more on this subject by using real paint in the future, potentially incorporating them with my photography. To be continued…