23 Jan 2023 | Works
"Fashion photography is the dream department of photography. When you're a fashion photographer, everything is an illusion from the start. Nothing is real."
I saw this quote in the Tim Walker exhibition Wonderful Things that’s currently showing at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, and it really struck a chord with me.
I asked myself, if there’s a dream department in the real world, where would it be? What would it look like?
In the beginning, I thought I would paint a dreamy, colourful place. Something inspired by Tim Walker’s work, a place like he would create it in his photos.
But I guess we are too different as artists, and I couldn’t conceive of any place that he would imagine.
So, I went back to the beginning and asked myself: Why was I so attracted to this exhibition? I liked the fantasy world he was bringing to the public.
But wait a minute, everyone has their own dreams. Our dream worlds all look very different. What does a place look like where people can build their dream worlds?
For me, that’s an easy answer. A clean, simple and quiet place. Crisp white linen. In the morning, bright sun streams through the window - if you want to sleep longer, you have to put on an eye mask, or hide your head under a pillow. No TV, just a few books. In such a simple space, we can have all of the galaxy in our heads. There we can dare to dream.
For a while, I was planning to paint an astronaut floating over the bed. I thought of how some people dream of going to outer space, while an astronaut probably just dreams of having a bed. I sketched and erased the astronaut two or three times. In the end, I realised that it was too limiting, too specific of a dream.
I had a little creative crisis until an idea hit me: My little twist for this painting would be a bear sleeping in the bed. It’s winter, life is tough, and we all need a good sleep. I love polar bears and I spent a lot of time painting one, paying attention to the different shades of white, yellow and grey of its fur. Then I was unhappy again, because it was blending too much with the background, it was all a bit too white. I ended up painting it all over in black - from polar bear to black bear.
When you look at the final result, you really don’t see the creative struggle that went on in this painting, but I’m exhausted! I need a good night’s sleep.