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JORIS GRAAF, ABSTRACT ARTIST

In MASTERS GALLERY are published weekly art works by prominent artists. Self-taught visual artist Joris Graaf creates tension in his digital photo art by forming a synthesis of opposites: noise and melody, order and chaos, growth and decay. Online editor: Larissa Schaule Jullens
Image: Joris Graaf

Nostalgia No. 22

“I have always felt a strong need to create, but I only started actually making art very late. Until a few years ago I worked as a geologist. When people see my artwork for the first time, they often think they are paintings, but they are digital photographic works. When I started taking photographs about five years ago, I soon noticed that I had a tendency to make abstract images. They were still really abstract photos at the time. Later I started publishing my work on Instagram and it was there that I discovered the world of contemporary abstract painting and that had a huge influence on my own photographic work. Using double exposure techniques and digital editing, I developed a method to create work inspired by the paintings I discovered online, but that didn't involve a brush. The work was a success and I was selected by GUP magazine New Dutch Photography Languagest 2019 and Fresh Eyes 2019. My work is therefore photographic in nature because I use a camera to create the source images, but the digital post-processing of these images is just as important as the photography itself. So I'm not a photographer either. I prefer to call myself an abstract artist.”

The Intensity of Emotion

“My works rarely have a social or political connotation. I am much more concerned with creating atmosphere and evoking emotions. It's not called my longest running series for nothing Nostalgia. For me, art is about feeling. I am driven by my own emotions and intuition. In addition to my own 'internal world', I am also strongly inspired by music. I personally think that is the most powerful art form there is. There is no other art form that can evoke such strong feelings in me. That may be why many of my images are square, like record covers. I am now also sometimes asked by musicians to provide works for their cover artwork. Or I hear that there are musicians who are inspired by my images. I think that's fantastic. That is something I am extremely proud of. After a period in which I worked with many dark tones, I increasingly started using bright colors and high contrasts in my works. I wanted to make the emotions as intense as possible. This work is a very clear example of this.”

The Chrysalis

“There are times when I doubt my working method and when I don't think my digital photographic works are 'real' enough because they are not made by hand, like a painting. But, at other times, I think what I do is original and innovative. I sometimes make a comparison with electronic music: where painters create their works of art using 'classical instruments', I try to create similar images with digital means. Electronic music often uses so-called samplers to record sounds from the world around us, which are then manipulated and processed into musical compositions. I actually do something similar to visual art: I use my camera to capture pieces of reality, but then I distort them to create new visual compositions. Still, at the end of 2020 I started experimenting with methods to work more with my hands. I started cutting up prints of my own work and then arranging them by hand into new compositions. I then photographed and edited this to get the colors slightly different. The Chrysalis is an example of this and the title (pupation of insects) refers to the fact that this may be an intermediate form on the way to collage, the actual sticking of the paper scraps using glue to create unique works of art.”