Q&A with Louise te Poele, Hyeres 2009
There is an intense painterly quality to your work is this intentional?
Yes, this quality is intentional; I like my work to look like it has been produced in a medium other than a camera. Sometimes I strive to create a picture that feels as though it’s a sculpture, as if I can touch it and walk around it.
Do you paint yourself?
I do make drawings myself as well, in some of them I will add elements of paint and colour.
Are your photo’s a more social commentary or aesthetic object?
This is a question I have been asking myself. I make pictures and I draw to force myself to confront the reality of life. All the people I photograph come from the village where I was born - I am enchanted by their beauty and the way they interacted with each other. It was surprising to me that the people looked so alike and at the same time so alienating. I accentuated this by rendering the backgrounds black – making my subjects vulnerable. Ultimately I leave viewers free to interpret my meaning to their own liking.
Where do the people come from?
From the small town, Lievelde, in the Netherlands. I was born there and I lived there throughout my childhood and teenage years. It is located in the Gelderland province.
How did you gain their trust?
I have known all of these people since my childhood so this is not usually an issue. It is a very tight knit community and gossip travels fast. People hear that I photograph others and consequently they want me to photograph them.
Would you call your work portraiture?
Yes - or a study of faces and hands.
Is it your intention to penetrate the personality of the subject?
This is sometimes my intention - it is usually a mix of their personality and my framework. But I do think that the image becomes stronger when their personality shows. I appreciate my subjects the best when they are unaware of the photograph being taken – free of inhibition.
There are overtones of Egon Schiele and Lucian Freud in your photo’s, have they influenced you, if not them, then who?
Yes I could they say influenced me unwittingly; I studied their work before and during my degree. I never really stood still by this similarity however, because my work is photographic and theirs isn’t. Other people that have influenced me are the van Eyck brothers and Vincent van Gogh.
Where are you based?
In Arnhem, the Netherlands.
What is your next photographic step?
I will continue with this series as I feel that there is still so much more to explore. I would also like to create a book filled with my sketches and drawings along with an installation of my entire farmers series and sketches.
Which place, person or thing had had the greatest influence on you throughout your career?
I would have to say my studio space at college in Arnhem; days after I graduated I was back there like any other day. But it was only then that I really looked at it. At all the pictures and drawings pasted on the walls and I wondered; what am I doing here? I realised that those walls were what I really wanted and what made me happy.
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