Lisanne Hoogerwerf, visual artist
Dutch artist Lisanne Hoogerwerf builds landscapes in her anti-squatting studio in The Hague, capturing them with photography and video. She materializes her own imagination. Staying close to herself, Lisanne Hoogerwerf transforms images from her subconscious into a tangible reality. She plays with light, movement and colour, creating an atmosphere in three dimensions, with tension and contrasts, until she breaks it all down and creates a new world again. As a means to be in the moment.
Please, tell us what you do.
In my studio I build landscapes, always based on images that I see in my imagination. I don’t use input from newspapers or films. For me, it’s important that I create from my own source.
I often build with found objects, or with paper, cardboard, wood. A lot of wooden skewers. Usually they contain certain structures that I envision. And then with earth, paint or canvases I create an environment in which it becomes a reality. I take pictures of the landscapes and make videos. As if they are multiple locations in a film that I capture. They are actually still locations, there are never human figures in my landscapes. I build my own, empty world.
Where were you trained?
I went to the Royal Academy of Art The Hague and graduated as an “autonomous artist” in 2011. Then I worked very conceptual and explored matching mediums. I created many performances and interventions in public space. I shot videos with passers-by and installations that I set up at the location itself – people could look at other people on the street through the windows, for example. Very different from what I’m doing now. Now I am totally centered in my own world, mostly cut off from public space and other people. I love this approach. While I was then very outward looking and doing interactive projects, I am now creating my own world. Working from that tranquillity gives me more fulfillment.
Tell us more about your landscapes.
To be a visual artist is to completely follow your own path. When I’m in my studio, I don’t have anything to do with anyone. I am free. Basically nobody is waiting for my work. I’m not attached to anyone. For me it’s a quest to see what’s coming. It is very important to stay true to myself. As soon as I feel obligated to do things, I feel limited. It excites me to see what comes out of nothing, out of myself. I started to build with what I saw in meditations, but now I also use current events in the world.
My landscapes are quite indefinable. I like it when it is both playful and serious. Very light and dark at the same time. That multiple opposites come together. So you don’t just see a very colourful landscape, but things are happening in it. You can look at it longer, and you can’t quite comprehend what you are seeing.
I make the intangible, something that I see in my own imagination, tangible with physical materials. In the process of photographing and filming, it gets a kind of its own reality.
I capture it, but as soon as I have taken the photograph, or made the film image, it disappears again and is actually back into the intangible. That interaction between something that is really present, the physical and the slipping away again, is something I like very much in my work and in my working process.
Learn more about Lisanne’s works of art: portfolio
Which part of the day works for you?
The best part of the day for me is the morning, even though I’m usually not completely fresh and awake yet. I think it’s very important to start right away in my studio and not to send e-mails or sit behind my computer first, because then I get into a different mood that defines my whole day. If I go directly to the studio and am here, away from the screens, I can stay in my own world and feel a stronger connection with myself than for example at the end of the afternoon or evening. For me the morning is the best.
I can work best if I don’t have too many things on my mind. If I have a lot to do and then I go to my studio I usually don’t know what to create. That’s why a quiet working environment is very important to me. I always start my day by meditating. It’s not that I get all my inspiration then, but it does help to build peace and quiet into which the ideas can come.
I also enjoy playing the piano in the morning. I’m not a good pianist but I like to look for certain rhythms on the piano and just see what comes next. My boyfriend bought a piano on Catawiki last year. It is not very well tuned, there are some false notes in it. Sitting down behind the piano and welcoming what’s coming, I can get into a kind of trance, in which new ideas emerge. The piano forces me to be present in the moment. And that in turn helps me to create my photos and videos.
Lisanne Hoogerwerf in her studio in The Hague.
Why do you build landscapes?
I find the subconscious very interesting. A few years ago I did a Vipassana meditation during 10 days. I noticed that as long as you sit with yourself long enough – we had to meditate there for 10 hours a day – many images of landscapes came beneath all the memories and thoughts. I saw moving landscapes so clearly. It was a must to do something with them, I had to examine them. Not necessarily looking at their meaning, but looking at them more closely. I tried to paint the landscapes. But that didn’t work at all because there were so many movements and colours in the images. I’m not a very good painter and I don’t have the patience to express myself that way. Actually quite organically I started to put objects in front of backgrounds and these landscapes came into being. For me it gave much more satisfaction than just painting on a panel.
The pictures are a kind of stillness of the movement in which they came into being. When I take pictures I’m also working with smoke machines or a ventilator with which I create movement. I play with the light, I make it dark, and light out certain points with torches. The photo is a snapshot of a certain world that I have created for a moment, of a process that goes on endlessly.
When do you get outside of your comfort zone?
My studio is my comfort zone. If something goes wrong here, it doesn’t bother anyone else. I always have time here. Nobody is watching. So I don’t have my challenges in my studio. Of course it happens that certain photos don’t work, because it stays very flat. It does not become a reality of its own. But then, fortunately, I can let it go. I usually work on several landscapes at the same time. When I get stuck, I start with the next image.
There are objects I have built that I don’t get photographed as I want. Sometimes I use them again after a year and things fall into place. A different background or lighting can bring the solution.
Lisanne Hoogerwerf’s objects for her landscapes.
Your short term wish?
The future for exhibitions and art fairs has become uncertain. I have put my dreams aside because of corona. I make sure I stay busy and see what’s coming instead of trying to plan everything. I have let go of all my goals, so “my short term wish” is quite a difficult question [… laughs].
I felt that the planning also raised a lot of expectations. The basis is that I feel good about creating. All exhibitions and sales are a kind of extra gift. The outcome shouldn’t be more important than creating itself. Because of corona and all the cancellations I came back to my basis: if there is no exhibition, will I still create? Yes of course, the exhibition is not the goal. For now, I want to continue creating. Is that very boring? [… laughs]. I would very much like to exhibit abroad, for example in Germany and Belgium, where I think people take more time for art.
Lisanne Hoogerwerf’s personal recommendations:
A pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on existence – Roy Andersson, Stalker – Tarkovski (film)
No one belongs here more than you – Miranda July (Book)
Man and His Symbols – Carl Jung (Book). This is the first and only work in which the world-famous Swiss psychologist explains to the layperson his enormously influential theory of symbolism as revealed in dreams.
Music by Nils Frahm, Max Richter, Orlande de Lassus
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