Wavepool – Why is the landscape a potent subject matter for you?
Wouter Van de Voorde – Landscape is a malleable substance when viewed through a viewfinder. Very sparse landscapes speak to me especially. Moving from Belgium to Australia has pushed me even more towards this subject. There is more landscape here than anything else. In remote places the isolation is really overwhelming, these feelings and atmospheres I try to translate in my pictures.
Wavepool – Having been a painter originally, I’m curious how the switch to photography happened for you. When did you realize a change was needed? Do you still paint?
Wouter Van de Voorde – I never felt like I needed to change from painting to photography, I don’t even think that there was even a switch. The photography stuff just started with moving to Australia, I was documenting my new life on the other side of the world and publishing images on my blog. Gradually the images became more autonomous. But in essence I’m just a painter with a camera. I never fully denounced painting.
In recent times I have picked up a paintbrush a few times and found it rather enjoyable. A couple of weeks ago I demolished an old wardrobe and recycled some of the wood which I have prepared to be painted on. Unsure what that will lead to at this point.
Wavepool – How does your background in painting influence your photographs? Do you think your understanding of the photographic process is different because of it?
Wouter Van de Voorde – I’m sure my background in painting has been a huge influence in my work. Color for starters is my main obsession, probably one of the reasons I rarely do any black and white photography. When I was painting ‘en plein air’: being outside with canvas and easel, I was really focused on reproducing colors as close as possible to what they appear in reality. This is still the case with my photography, although the oil paint has been swapped with digital scans of color negatives… I am not trying to make painterly images, I think I just do because it’s in my blood.
Wavepool – Who or what are some significant influences?
Wouter Van de Voorde – Living in Flanders and studying in Ghent, you get used to a never-ending exposure to centuries of amazing art. Especially early renaissance painting, the Flemish Primitives, Brueghel, Rubens, Van der Weyden, etc. The list doesn’t end there.
When I was 15 I went to a large Mondrian retrospective in the Hague. To this day Mondrian is a huge influence in my work, not as a reference in how he constructed his abstracts, but more so in the way his entire body of work flows like a living organism. The key thing for me is authenticity, Mondrian, who is most known for his abstracts with primary colors, did not just wake up one day and decided to paint a bunch of lines with colored squares. He started out as a landscape painter and slowly distillated his way into abstraction. I feel that as an artist you need to develop your own world and way of viewing things, the more organic this process the more valuable. It’s too easy to just jump on the latest hype and milk that for what it’s worth.
I am basically doing something very similar in my photographs now than what I was doing in painting more than 15 years ago.
Wavepool – Do you photograph with the intention of developing projects or are you more concerned with singular images?
Wouter Van de Voorde – I photograph with the intention to photograph. Photography is a goal in itself. That said I believe I work on images in a very singular way. I firmly believe that each image should be strong enough to stand on it’s own. This doesn’t mean that it can’t fit in a larger context like a series, an exhibition or a publication. Most series on my website are collections of data about some locations. I’m not trying to tell a carefully outlined story.
Wavepool – Do you have anything new currently in the works?
Wouter Van de Voorde – I’m currently working on two books, one book is bundling images made at the illustrious Wasteland, a stretch of no man’s land where a bunch of people regularly meet up to race beaten-up old cars in the dirt, while being dressed-up as characters from a Mad Max movie. This book will include besides images by yours truly, photographs from the hand of my mate Jamie Hladky and Melbourne photographer William James Broadhurst. This publication should be available for purchase towards the end of this year.
Simultaneously I’m working on another publication containing an eclectic range of pictures shot between 2011 and 2013. This book will contain writing by UK based writer/photographer Alexander Norton. This book should equally be available for pre-order early next year.
In February I have a solo exhibition of my (Hume) Sunrise series at the Color Factory in Melbourne as part of the Australian Photobook festival.
To see more, please visit Wouter’s website.