Baumschule / Gerco de Ruijter

How abstract can a landscape become while still remaining a landscape?

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Appreciation towards Gerco de Ruijter for providing the following description:

1961年在荷兰出生的摄影艺术家Gerco de Ruijter是一位风景摄影师,他通常在离地30米到300米的高空中拍摄他的照片,然通过调整画面得到几何式的抽象作品。这里介绍的是他系列作品之一“Baumschule”。风景变成抽象的景观,但同时,风景的纯正与美丽依旧被保持。

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How abstract can a landscape become while still remaining a landscape?

I tried to find the answer to this question during extended travels, by searching for a fully natural landscape, not manmade, and lacking any
cultural presence. I found these “natural-born” sites in New Mexico – deserts formed by rocks and sand and all forms of erosion. A barren
landscape, too, with scarce vegetation.

In White Sands I created a triptych in which I believe I reached the ultimate abstract landscape. With no “things” to see, and no vegetation to
indicate any scale, what is visible is just the soft incline created by gypsum. Not the landscape is subject of the photo – daylight is.

This natural desert landscape is in strong contrast with the Dutch culturally defined landscape. The Dutch landscape was efficiently drawn with
functionality in mind on the drawing boards of urban and rural planners. Tulip fields, hothouses, land worked by farmers on tractors with their
GPS handy. Not just one, no, uncountable “little things” form precisely lined rows.

Between 2001 and 2003, I took photos of poplars and willows in Vlaardingen’s Broekpolder. This polder was raised with silt taken from the
Rotterdam Harbor. The plan was to build homes. But after proof was delivered that the soil was contaminated with cadmium and mercury, no
homes were constructed, and trees were planted.

Thus was created a splendid “green town”. The basic plan for the urbanization was executed after all, yet with lanes and paths for streets and
trees planted in a clear grid instead of houses.

After 2008, I took photos of tree farms in Boskoop and Kesteren. A patchwork quilt of very different, neighboring agribusinesses separated only
by a narrow road or a ditch. Here a bald, recently plowed field; there a piece of land full of holes dug for future trees.

I found an enormous variety of visual elements. They show up not just because of the different seasons, but also through the stratification of the
land. Trees, soil, holes. The combination of a tight grid and the camera’s central perspective results in a distinct depth, while on a cloudy day
foreground and background may slide into each other.

Even though the series “Baumschule” deals with an extremely defined cultural landscape, it are the abnormalities that jump into view. The
presence of all of these objects arranged to form rows creates a new form of abstraction, not because of the image’s emptiness but, to the
contrary, because of the presence of so many “things”, their patterns and their rhythms.

Funny, the irregularities in the patterns cause the viewer to once again notice nature.

Gerco de Ruijter

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Gerco de Ruijter在长期旅行中一直需找完全自然没有任何人为痕存在的自然景观。首先他在新墨西哥州遇到了岩石和沙子组成的沙漠侵蚀景观,荒芜而植被稀少,极致的抽象。这种抽象的景观与荷兰文化中的风景对比强烈,荷兰的风景中总是有许多井井有条的小要素:温室,拖拉机,郁金香,农民等等。通过对不同的景观拍摄,他发现了一个巨大系列的视觉元素,这些要素出现在不同的季节,分布在不同的层次,可以通过调节景深和选择时间以及天气来实现不同的前景背景还有画面。 在“Baumschule” 系列中,虽然大背景是在同一个主题文化风景下进行,但结果却具备极大的跳跃性和异化。所有的对象创建出一个全新的抽象图景,看起来空,但世界上里面有很多具有独特模式和节奏的“东西”存在。滑稽的是,这些不规则的图案却让观众再次直视本质。

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Stedelijk博物馆馆长Colin Huizing曾对Gerco de Ruijter进行过一次专访。在这次访谈中,Gerco de Ruijter提到自己的工作是基于现实的视觉描述,虽然图面像抽象画,但并没有像抽象画家那样抛出一个故事或者一个深刻的寓意,他只是让观众看到图像本身。在拍摄的时候,通过各种审时度势的判断选取独一无二的构图,很多图面最后看起来使人惊讶,但却是事实存在。而且从高空看,一切偏移的要素都能被均衡的纳入作品中。此外这些几何抽象的图形中,形式,色彩,光线,阴影都是客观而重要的,和那些人为完全控制的艺术作品不一样。作为一名摄影师,他通过寻找现实世界的“东西”(在他看来这些东西本质上也是抽象元素),在将其转化成为画作般的创作,整个创作过程与结果都是艺术而有力的。

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Here is more information form the Gerco de Ruijter :

Interview with Colin Huizing, curator of the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam

Gerco de Ruijter (Vianen, the Netherlands, 1961) is a photographer of landscapes. He takes his photos from 30 to 300 ft above the earth. A
recent series is called “Baumschule” and portrays tree nurseries. These photos are composed geomatrically; the picture adjustment and the
distance from the subject help to create the impression of abstract geometric paintings. This was the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam’s motivation
for inviting Gerco de Ruijter to show his work in combination with a selection of works from the museum’s collection. The exhibition’s name,
“Permanent Quadrant”, is the description used in botany of an area marked by stakes and rope to periodically check on the development of
specific vegetation.

 

Do you appreciate the comparison of your work with abstract geometrical paintings?

In large measure, yes. What is similar in my work and that of abstract geometrical painters is foremost that we do not dish up a story or a
deeper meaning. The viewer sees nothing but the image itself.
With many abstract painters I share the preference of the formal qualities of an image, whether a painting or a photo. Nevertheless, my work is
based on the visual reality. My best photos are those in which recognizable reality meets abstraction.

 

Your photographs are taken by a camera hanging high up from a kite’s line or,sometimes, from a long rod. Do you have any idea what you are
shooting?

I make decisions. I select the location and the light, then let my camera’s lens “catch” the area from above. The results are stored on
negatives. Later, I adjust the framing of each image in such a way that I achieve the best composition, often the golden section, the extreme
ratio. For some photos I deliberately select a symmetrical composition. Whatever I do to rationalize my choices, in most images the structures,
lines, and fields surprisingly show irregularities, because they are there in reality. In one image it is the absence of one tree in a series of trees
planted in great regularity, in another image it may be the color of one plant or tree that deviates from the rest. My photography is highly
democratic. Everything in the image has the same importance, the formal structures no more than the “invading” details of, for instance, a
piece of barbed wire or a leaf fallen to the ground. My observation from high up in the air levels out everything that is visible. It is the great
equalizer.

 

Work by dutch minimalist Ad Dekkers was selected to be shown with your work.

Both Dekkers and I create images that not immediately point outa visual reality. Our work is influenced by the circumstances, especially light.
The geometrical compositions and orderly arrangements that characterize all of Dekkers’ works can also be found in my “Baumschule” series.
In my images the trees themselves are hardly visible; their forms, though, show up thanks to light and shadows. Dekkers carefully arranges
the presentation of his subjects. He is in full control and doesn’t allow any invading details. To the contrary in my work these irregularities,
these incidents, play a very important role.

 

Does this mean that your work is closer to that of dutch artist herman de vries?

The biologist and botanic de vries is fascinated by system and coincident. In the beginning, his visualizations were rational, almost
mathematical. Later, he began to create images of natural phenomenon by using elements from nature itself, such as leaves or earth applied
to paper. He collects from all over the world, he is an almost pathological gatherer. I am one myself. I, too, take what is offered by nature
and find an application for it. And just as de vries I use the location’s topsoil to create a sample sheet, a library, of what the earth has to offer.

 

The painter Koen Vermeule works in a similar way.

If I had continued my art studies to become a painter and not a photographer, my paintings would have been as Vermeule’s are, with
extreme attention for the texture of the materials on display. In his paintings he manages to suggest the slow passage from foreground to
background. One of his paintings of a dune landscape is geographically recognizable, yet a perfect abstract composition. This is what defines
my work as well.

 

Why did you decide to not become a painter?

Photography initially was a means to paint as an abstract expressionist. I was searching for “something” from the real world. I noticed
abstract elements in nature, took pictures of these forms to translate them into paintings. Ultimately, after several experiments, I reached
the conclusion that my photography had enough quality to exist for itself as an art form and that I did not need to exercise the translation
into a painting.

 

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