Bas Meeuws THE POWER OF FLOWERS
“I am attracted to making the impossible possible,” says Bas Meeuws of his large- scale works, composed piece by piece from an image archive of thousands of flowers. “When you take a photograph of a bouquet you always see it’s a photograph of a bouquet; everything is in proportion, there’s gravity.” The Dutch photographer prefers a more painterly approach, using his database as a palette to create “strange, fantasy images… more real than reality.” In this, he is following in the tradition of 17th-century Dutch flower painting, where flowers that never could have bloomed simultaneously were portrayed in arrangements together. “I play with proportions. I place tiny flowers at the top of bouquets or shrink large flowers into small pieces,” he explains. “It makes something hyper-real.” Over the past few years, the self-taught photographer— represented by Per van der Horst Gallery in the Netherlands—has built up a collection of more than 13,000 images of flora shot from multiple angles. He started with tulips, naturally, but has since branched out into more tropical flowers; hibiscus and orchids. But where the exotic arrangements painted by his predecessors reflected status and wealth, Meeuws wishes to highlight that “every flower, every leaf,” is precious. “We have to be more careful with our planet. When people look at the flowers in my work I want them to experience the same sense of awe as viewers did in the 17th century—but for different reasons.” basmeeuws.com
Opposite and below: Bas Meeuws’s Mughal Botanical (#03) 2015 and Untitled (#112) 2014, in which he aims to give “even weeds a podium so the viewer can see their real beauty.” Right: The hyper- natural yet accessible Reviviscere , part of the Azahar series by Julija Levkova.
Julija Levkova HYPER-REAL PERFECTION
“I am inspired by the big themes in life: loneliness, vulnerability, and the pure emotions,” says Julija Levkova of her hyper-real, color-saturated, and flower-filled works. “I want to put things together to rebuild and discover in what way I see the world.” Born in Riga, Latvia, and now working between Belgium and the Netherlands, Levkova’s interest in still lifes dates back to her teenage years when, like our other practitioners, she was fascinated by the Golden Age of the still life and painters such as Rembrandt (1606–69), van Huysum, and Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). Growing up inspired by a library of books on art and history, Levkova went on to study photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. Today she creates her works using “hyper-collage,” taking hundreds of different photographs of flowers, birds, and insects before “spending months layering them to arrive at the final art piece always full of life.” Levkova is currently putting together a new body of works, which she says will be a “hyper-real arrangement that pulls the viewer into contact with the flora and fauna that the planet stands to lose. I am focusing on ecological issues the planet is facing nowadays, environmental protection, and human intervention in nature and its negative impact.” julijalevkova.com Nione Meakin writes about art and culture for The Guardian , The Independent , and Celebrated Living magazine in the U.K.
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