TASVEER, in association with Dauble, launches its twelfth season with Spring in the Wintertime by Dutch photographer, Bas Meeuws. This exhibition presents a selection of 43 photographs, bringing together new and previously unseen Indian work produced in conversation with Tasveer, along with a selection of Meeuws’ early floral still lifes inspired by the Dutch Golden Age tradition of ‘flower painting’. To commemorate the exhibition, Tasveer will release a photo book in collaboration with Mapin Publishing, featuring high-quality reproductions of the photographs in the exhibition and a specially commissioned text by Ljiljana Ortolja-Baird.
Exotic and unusual flowers, including tulips, were introduced to the Netherlands in the late 16th century. They were avidly collected and studied by botanists and scholars, as well as artists, who saw them as a source of inspiration. As new and distinct genres of painting centered around secular subjects evolved during this period, flowers grew to become an important subject of the developing category of still lifes. Intrigued by the artistic phenomenon of ‘flower paintings’, Meeuws utilises digital photography in a 21st century context, to create contemporary flower pieces in the way of modern Dutch masters like Ambrosius Bosschaert, Jan Brueghel, Jacob Marrel and Jacques de Gheyn: flower by flower, layer by layer.
“The bouquets in the paintings were impossible constructions of flowers from different seasons. I want to pursue this element of the genre. It gives you the opportunity to work outside of time, to make time stand still. The comfort of photography, that’s how I like to see my still lifes,” explains Meeuws. Each flower is individually photographed to build a digital ‘flower library’ from which Meeuws selects a combination of flowers and foliage to create a unique arrangement. He adds: “I try to summon up the feelings in myself that the people looking at the picture then would have had. The awe that they must have felt for all the expensive and exotic flowers together.”
In an essay penned for the accompanying publication, Ljiljana Ortolja-Baird summarises: “Meeuws’ work is one of confluence in which East and West, tradition and modernity, nature and artifice intermingle to create a subtle sense of otherworldliness. By the clever manipulation of these influences his flowers pieces are infused with vitality and spiritual abundance that champion the wonder of nature.”
This exhibition is presented in association with Per Van der Horst Gallery, The Hague.
About the artist
Bas Meeuws (b. 1974), is a contemporary Dutch photographer who injects the traditional Dutch genre of flower painting with new vigour through his photographic still life series. Much like the subject of his photographs–flowers–his own works are signifiers of multiple layers of meaning, referencing historical and cultural traditions, as well concepts of transience, the passage of time and mortality.
Meeuws created his first photographic flower piece in 2010 and appreciation for his work swiftly followed. He won the the Dutch Public Award in the creation category of the Metro Photo Challenge 2011 and his work has been widely exhibited in the Netherlands, including at the Per van der Horst Gallery, Museum Jan van der Togt, Chuang Tu Gallery, Wilms Gallery and the Westfries Museum. Meeuws has also shown at several international art fairs including PAN Amsterdam (2012 – 2016), LA Art Show 2015, Art Basel 2016, Context Art Miami 2016, Rotterdam Contemporary Art Fair 2017 and India Art Fair 2017. His work is held in the public collections of the Westfries Museum (Hoorn), the Vanderbilt University (Amsterdam) and the Amstelveen City Hall (Amsterdam).