Christies Real Estate Magazine

Jeroen Luijt PERSONAL DRAMA

It is perhaps not surprising that Jeroen Luijt’s photography should be infused with the spirit of the Dutch Old Masters. As he points out: “I live in the center of Amsterdam; I have the 17th century all around me.” His passion for still life began in front of the Rijksmuseum’s collections of Jan van Huysum (1682–1749), Pieter Claesz (1597–1660) and Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641). It wasn’t until he embarked on a course at the city’s Photo Academy, however, that he struck on the idea of making his own. “It was a four-year course covering everything from portraiture to architecture photography, but it was the still-life module that really held my attention

because it wasn’t simply about taking the photo—it was the whole process of creation.” Today, Lujit has started to attract the attention of critics and collectors alike for his dramatic images, rich in detail and symbolism that blend the classical and the personal. “I always try to use items that mean something to me,” he says. By way of example, he mentions the lutes that sometimes appear in his work—a personal cameo from the photographer, whose surname is the Dutch word for lute. He will spend hours arranging a twist of lemon peel just so on a Delft plate, or lighting a skull to illuminate every plane and hollow. The results are frequently mistaken for oil

paintings. But while Luijt draws heavily from painterly traditions—his series New Vanitas was laden with symbols that have historically represented the transience of life—it is the challenges of the photographic process that really fascinate him. “When taking a photo, what you see is what you get. If there’s a reflection of light on a glass, you will see that reflection. When an object is shown balanced on the edge of the table you actually have to balance it there. Sometimes you have to tilt a plate so it can be seen on the table but doesn’t look like it’s tilted. Painting is hard, of course, but sometimes it’s easier to paint reality than to photograph it.” jeroenluijt.nl

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