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In his search for the purest expression of beauty, the Belgian photographer Dirk Lambrechts (° 1962) explores the limits of a formal simplification of an image through a slow work of introspection and a perfectly mastered technique.
Dirk Lambrechts’s photos are a reflection of art history and a personal reflection inspired by the currents that flowed through it. The Antwerp artist claims in particular a filiation with the old masters of the chiaroscuro which he seeks to translate painting techniques in a form of modern artistic expression that is photography.
The other important aspect of Dirk Lambrechts’ work is his quest for simplicity. This leads him to dive more and more into the main spirit of his images. He compares the culmination of process to what the creator of a Japanese garden is looking for: No more to add, or leave away. This result is conceivable according to him only if the realization of a series is preceded by a long maturation. Between the birth of an idea and the first shot, the photographer takes the time to think, observe and conduct research to define the most important points of his project. This meticulous work is prolonged during the execution by a critical analysis of his first tests that he renews until obtaining the desired result.
Their unusual treatment also highlights the craftsmanship underpinned by his photographs, and his ambition to raise his technical level ever higher.
“Faced with what our eyes see, from time to time our brain chooses to retain only a part of reality. We discover lost details that I focus on“ he says.
Dirk Lambrechts deals with familiar subjects as raw materials do, to the point of understanding the essence of their beauty. From this reality, augmented by the photographer’s work of reflection and the mastery of his technique, graphic images of great purity are born.
Inspired by the work of painters of the Golden Age, Dirk Lambrechts plunges us into the heart of Flemish skies whose reality he sacralizes by playing with the characteristic forms of the clouds and the refraction of light. Flemish Light is a personal work initiated by Dirk Lambrechts. It brings together all the outstanding traits that mark the originality of his approach: observation, historical inspiration, documentary research, technical experimentation, quest for simplicity and graphic expression.
This series finds its source in the admiration that the Antwerp photographer carries to the painters of the 17th century of the former "United Provinces". Beginning to work outside, the Jacob Van Ruisdael, Adriaen Van De Velde and Rembrandt Van Rijn revolutionized Flemish and Dutch painting. Previously a minority of paintings, landscapes became a more prominent subject. Then the horizon line lowers, sometimes leaving the sky and clouds fill more than two thirds of the canvas. At the same time, the technique of Chiaroscuro, initiated by Caravaggio, is used by Vermeer in his paintings already show important contrasts between white clouds and others very dark. For the photographer, the right direction was clear.
"The Flemish sky has inspired several generations of painters, from the 17th century Antwerp miniaturists to William Turner, who traveled to us to observe our skies. To express its beauty, these artists used paint. I use a more modern technique, photography, but my intention is the same. In Flanders, there is not a day, nor a moment of the day, when the clouds are identical. This is what intrigues me and encourages me to continue to capture these fleeting forms. The upper part of the cloud is often lighter than the underside, which accentuates the graphics of the image. I never photograph the blue of the sky, but there are always complementary colors that enter the clouds. According to the time of the day when the photo was taken, these colors change at all".
Drawing from his impressive "collection of clouds" Dirk Lambrechts made a first selection of photographs, which are those that affect him more particularly. Among them, a cliché made at dusk when the clouds are still illuminated by the sun. The image is crossed by blue stripes. The photographer calls this "his Rothko." But it is a Rothko created by nature …
text by Patrick Delaroche