Bas Princen: Earth Pilar

In Bas Princen’s photos, each image is suspended within uncertain temporality between past and future; the present constitutes a moment of contemplation.

The fourth exhibition hosted at the Solo Galerie in Paris highlights some fundamental themes concerning the relationship between artifice and nature, through an attentive selection among the recent works of the Dutch photographer Bas Princen. The title itself, Earth Pilar, inspired by one of the photos on exhibit, reveals the desire to reflect on the demiurgic figure in the signs of construction/deconstruction present within the images.
Bas Princen
Bas Princen, Wall Pavilion 2. © Bas Princen, courtesy Solo Galerie
Bas Princen’s photos become investigative tools able to challenge the character of places. Each image is suspended within uncertain temporality between past and future. The present constitutes a moment of contemplation on the part of the viewer. After studying architecture and industrial design, over the years Princen has developed a photography practice that stands out as a tool of analysis and critique regarding the process of space transformation. The images render the complexity of contemplation built by a process of fragmenting reality. Princen distances himself from reality by disengaging his experience of space according to the limits of photography: isolating a part of the whole so as to re-produce a personal notion of place and space. What the Dutch artist proposes is a practice of photography where the landscape isn’t the subject. Instead, by using the outlook of a designer, Princen evokes the possibility to visually build new spaces starting from reality as a source of inspiration. In this way, the stereotype that identifies images as a practice of illustrative documentation is bypassed.  
Bas Princen
Bas Princen, Placer mine II (Rosebel), 2016. © Bas Princen, courtesy Solo Galerie

As part of the exhibition “Earth Pilar,” the images reveal their role in creating critical awareness. Each picture is able to evoke universal allegories. The expressive power of the images is such that, though part of an overall discourse, each one generates a singular reflection. That is why the itinerary inside the gallery is intentionally free and random. It allows visitors the chance to access the show from two different entrances.

In the first case, the viewer immediately sees the image that lends its name to the exhibition. In this itinerary, the fil rouge seems to be a visual reflection on some archetypical concepts that allow space to be built. 

Bas Princen
Bas Princen, Mine (Orogenic Deposit), 2010. © Bas Princen, courtesy Solo Galerie
The ethereal presence of the pillar leads the spectator to visually engage with the substance in the images Vault (Grotta Gigante) and Mine (Orogenic Deposit). Both large-format prints (230x180cm) project the viewer’s gaze within a contemplation without any reference to representative scale and allow one to focus on the paired colour elements. The willingness to create space through 2D images is finally revealed by Brick Wall I (Dendera) and Brick Wall II (Dendera), the two photos part of the installation conceived by Office KGDVS for the Shenzhen architecture biennale in 2014. The reduced-scale model allows viewers to understand how the wall image itself becomes a wall in building a circular space able to host and gather together visitors.
Bas Princen
Bas Princen, Gate (Petra), 2012. © Bas Princen, courtesy Solo Galerie

The second entrance to the exhibition allows the viewer to directly access some photo snippets that depict the frescoes of Ambrogio Lorenzetti. The particular type of print on rice paper favours the effect of duplicating reality by leading the viewer in minutely contemplating the fresco fragment. The iconographic reference constitutes an important element to understanding how the image of the landscape corresponds to a political intent, a metaphor that introduces the visitors to the following images taken in the gold mines of Suriname.  

The itinerary rounds off with two pictures shot in Petra. These bring the narrative back to the photographic construction of monumentality where the matter and substance of the subject are the focus of visual interest.

Bas Princen
Bas Princen, Section (Petra), 2012. © Bas Princen, courtesy Solo Galerie
In conclusion, both itineraries come together to constantly question who created and how the traces present in contemporary landscapes. Therefore, Princen evokes the ambiguity of building a metaphorical pillar where the sign of man is in harmony with the constant process of a changing land.  
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