Wouter Van De Voorde‘s photographs from ‘Hume Sunrise’ are atmospheric pictures that are reminiscent of a Dutch landscape; flat, moody, silent and still. So perhaps it was no surprise to find out that Van Der Voorde is from Belgium and originally trained as a painter. His formal training encouraging him to see the world through an emotional prism. The colour, forms and composition of the landscape a reflection of himself.
Now living in Australia Van Der Voorde has brought a distinctly European aesthetic to the Antipodes. Working with a medium format camera he travels the roads of New South Wales finding atmospheric spaces that express his feeling of being both part of the landscape and removed from it. An alien in a foreign land.
The result is a strange commingling of ideas, a beatific picture of a desolate landscape in a post apocalyptic world. There are no people present in these photographs. Only the remnants of humanity; homes, empty roads, a forlorn horse, an odd electrical pole. In this land we are left with cracks in the earth, piles of rubble, slow meandering streams deadened by industrial waste, a still lake on which mist sits uneasily, a wane sun attempting to rise through the choking atmosphere. The vista threadbare. Forgotten.
Yet in this despairing landscape Van Der Voorde finds a melancholic beauty we can ruminate on. Reflect and lose ourselves in. It’s a body of work that requires time. It’s a series of pictures by an accomplished artist who has much more to come. Here’s what he has to say about his artistic practice:
I am essentially a landscape painter. When I started making images I was painting outside with my easel in the middle of the night, trying to capture the darkness in oil-painting. I explore(d) my urban environment by foot or by bike, carefully mapping my battleground. From day one it was all about capturing places that had an atmospherical charge to it.
Through a shit-storm of soul-searching and surrealist detours in painting, photography has brought me back to the essence of my love for image making: portraying fragments of reality, attempting to construct images strong enough to carry the mood I wish to create. I can’t restrict myself to one particular concept, although the vowels and consonants of the landscape’s alphabet dictate my phrases.
Moving from Belgium to Australia has made me into a photographer in exile. As a permanent tourist I seek refuge in my images, trying to create a sense of belonging for myself.