Who is Ellen Kooi?
Dutch photographer Ellen Kooi was born in 1962 in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands, studied at the Art Academy ABK Minerva in Groningen in the Netherlands, and completed her postgraduate studies in Art at the Rijksacademy in Amsterdam. Ellen Kooi's photography investigates a multifaceted confrontation between man and nature, between each person and their surroundings, a complex and conflicting relationship that today is being redefined as never before and is ripe for reinvention. The planning required for his images requires a degree of work and talent that makes the staging of his works an act of virtuosity. Natural light is combined with artificial lighting in a reinterpretation of Renaissance aerial perspective that produces impressive results.
What are the characteristics of Ellen Kooi's photographs?
Hours of control over lighting and subject arrangements go into every photograph. Ellen Kooi's large-scale panoramic photographs challenge us to see the world as a dramatic narrative. Each image looks like it was taken in the middle of a dark fairy tale set in the Dutch countryside. The artist wants the viewer to look for the border between fantasy and reality. An eerie restlessness weaves a characteristic thread through the non-linear narrative style of his larger body of work.
At first glance, the people who inhabit these landscape panoramas (mostly Dutch) seem to be at the mercy of their surroundings. But if we look more closely at these images, we see a more complex relationship, as the landscape almost responds to its inhabitants. The displays of nature that we see are a symbolic reflection of the inner turmoil, or even the happiness of these people. In a way comparable to psychological portraits of the 19th century, Ellen Koooi tries to tell us about myths, chance encounters and our relationship with the outside world. But keeping that in mind, his works are as much concerned with the landscape as they are with the person. By drawing close connections between established themes in our visual memory of history, but never choosing a main focus, Ellen Kooi's works are suspenseful and difficult to identify.
What are Ellen Kooi's influences?
The influence of the choreography of Wim Vandekeybus, Jan Fabre and Pina Bausch is fundamental in his work in the way he uses models to create calligraphy using the body and psychological states highly charged with emotion. His architectural approach to composition and perspective also plays a significant role, even when shooting empty and desolate outdoor scenes.
Ellen's reinvention of the traditional “figure in the landscape” genre is more than just reinterpreting or rereading old Flemish masters like Vermeer, Brueghel, Patinir or Bosch, it comes out of nowhere, from everyday life. His images are unstable and full of hidden questions that make us feel an inner pulsation, a sensation.
Ellen Kooi Exhibitions
His work has been featured in exhibitions at numerous institutions, including most recently the Institut Néerlandais, Paris, France in 2010. His work has also been exhibited at The Fields Sculpture Park at the Omni International Arts Center in Ghent, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and León, in Spain; the Moscow House of Photography, Russia; Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky; and the Photography Museum in The Hague, Holland. His work is part of the public collections of national and international institutions such as the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla Y Leon; 21c Museum in Louisville, Kentucky; the French State Collection in Paris; the Marsh Collection in London; the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands, and many others. In 2013, her work was featured in OFF-SPRING: New Generations, a group exhibition at the 21c Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Ellen Kooi currently lives and works in the Netherlands and has shown at Catharine Clark Gallery since 2007.