I think it was a year ago, that I stumbled upon a book called “The Upset: young contemporary art”. I didn’t know it then, but it was going to have an impact on what I was doing with photography.
I was just walking in this bookstore, heading for the photography section, because I wanted to buy a book on photography techniques. While I was making my way through the bookstore, my eye caught this glimpse of a tree trunk with an eye in it. It took a few seconds, before this image got processed in my brain, but when it did, it made me stop. I walked back to where I saw this tree trunk and this is what I saw:
Mark Ryden – The Apology
It was the cover of the book I just mentioned.
I don’t know why it made me stop, but it did. I’m trying to think of a rational explanation, but it was more of a feeling than anything else. Something started to ‘ resonate’, but what?
First of all, I think it is beautifully painted. But what struck me was that it has this child like quality to it. Almost cartoonish. Perhaps because you see a young girl, but it also evokes a sense of wonder and mystery you’d normally wouldn’t see in a piece of art. It’s almost fairytale like, but with a darkness commonly not associated with fairytales (at least the Disney version of it).
Also I normally I don’t associate figurative paintings with contemporary art. But here it is, a ‘strange’ image in my hands and something is shifting in my brain.
According to the book, Mark Ryden belongs to this art movement called “lowbrow” or “pop-surrealism”. It’s a movement that has it’s roots in the underground scene. In street art, Graffiti etc. It’s called “lowbrow” because it is the opposite of “highbrow”, meaning fancy, sophisticated, elitist or intellectual. It’s an form of art that developed outside the ‘academic’ world of the arts. To me it sounded more basic, more primal. Perhaps in a sense more real.
This book was like some sort of catalyst for me. A year and a half ago I was thinking really hard on what sort of photographer I wanted to be. Is it commercial photography? Art Photography? Documentary? Fashion? I was really looking hard for an identity. And here I was confronted with highly skilled artists that make all of these images filled with a sense of wonder. Artists who are still in touch with that ‘magical world’ we inhabit as young children. They still have that ability to see wonder around us.
It wasn’t a grand revelation or anything. But slowly I realised that I really had to follow my own dreams and visualise them. In part their work made me focus on what I wanted to do with my photography.
So instead of buying this photography techniques book, I bought this book, with all of these wonderful artists. Perhaps one of the best buys I ever did.
I have added more pieces of art by other artists in this book. You can see them below. I hope you enjoy them. If you want to see more work you can find these here:
Martin Witthfooth – Occupy
Ray Caesar – Daybreak
Femke Hiemstra – Line Of Faith