What happens when two artists with different specialties find each other in a common passion? You probably get a synergy of different art forms; art that would not have been created without this fusion of disciplines. The partnership of floral designer Anton van Duijn and photographer Bas Andries stands out as a unique blend of nature and artistry. Their journey, an intersection of two distinct crafts, has led to the creation of something truly special, marrying the timeless elegance of floral design with the nuanced art of photography.
The Meeting of Two Masters
Bas Andries, a professional cameraman, known for his collaboration with quite some big artists like Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg, and for his underwater camera work in various movies, brings to the table his expertise in lighting and a deep-seated admiration for the Dutch Old Masters of the 17th century. His childhood, enriched by visits to numerous museums with his late aunt Sien, laid the foundation for his artistic sensibilities.
Anton van Duijn, on the other hand, is a florist whose passion for his craft is as evident as it is infectious. You will know Anton as the style director of the trendy European online florist Bloomon. He is also an avid botanical designer, a trendwatcher, an entrepreneur, and an innovator.
The paths of these two masters in their profession crossed in South Africa during a commercial shoot for Bloomon. This encounter, more than just a professional rendezvous, sparked a shared vision. The chilly Dutch winter was left behind for the South African sun, setting the stage for a bond that would soon transform into a creative powerhouse.
A Unique Project in Floral Still Life Photography
The idea was simple yet profound: to create photographic still lifes, reminiscent of paintings, using flowers as the central theme.
"Our project actually started in 2017. My idea was to take a photo as if it were a painting. Anton immediately responded very enthusiastically. So we got to work in Anton's studio first making a dark green painted background decor.
Anton made a bouquet and I did the lighting à la Vermeer (the famous Dutch painter), with very soft light from the left from one source, with all kinds of things put in front of the lamp to make the light even more beautiful. We then did a shoot with about four bouquets. It was an instant hit, which gave me such a good feeling."
In Anton's studio, a world of creativity awaited. Anton brought in bouquets that echoed the whispers of the changing seasons. Bas, with his artistic eye, illuminated these scenes in a manner that would make not only Vermeer but many Old Dutch Masters proud.
Their initial experiments with four bouquets were a revelation, not just in terms of aesthetic appeal but also in their ability to weave a narrative through floral artistry and photographic skill. The authenticity of their work was paramount. No digital enhancements, no Photoshop – just the raw, unadulterated beauty of flowers in their natural bloom, complemented by Bas's skillful manipulation of light and shadow.
Embracing the Rhythm of the Seasons
Anton introduced a novel concept that the flower world is not confined to the traditional four seasons; it embraces eight. This perspective breathed life into a series of eight photographs, each representing one of these eight seasons.
"I believe that in the flower world, we have not four, but eight seasons. In addition to the four main seasons winter, spring, summer, and autumn, there are also the four transitions between those main seasons, each with their own colors and flowers. For example, a spring flower can also end up in a bouquet together with a summer flower."
In their compositions, the past and present danced a delicate duet. Bas infused each setup with personal history, incorporating his aunt's vintage collectibles – porcelain pots, antique spoons, and the like. These elements added layers of depth, connecting the viewer to a bygone era. Yet, in a playful twist, modern objects were subtly introduced. A set of keys, an iPhone – these elements were not mere props but symbolic gestures, nodding to the present while honoring the past.
Each photo became a narrative in itself, an ode to the seasonality of flowers, to history, a tribute to personal memories, and a recognition of contemporary life.
The Evolution and Expansion of Their Work
By 2018, their inaugural series was completed, and making its debut in galleries in Amsterdam. However, it was just the beginning. Anton and Bas are already exploring new avenues, seeking additional spaces to showcase their art, driven by a desire to share their vision with a broader audience.
"Our first year-round series was completed in 2018. It has already been exhibited in a number of galleries in Amsterdam, but we want to show it in even more places. We are looking for galleries and spaces that want to exhibit our works."
The future looks promising, with plans for new designs already brewing. This venture was not just an artistic endeavor; it was a passion project that continued to evolve, driven by the duo's commitment to their crafts.
"We have put so much time and passion into it, so we obviously want our work to be seen. We are already working on new designs, so this is also a nice prelude to what is yet to come."
The collaboration between Anton van Duijn and Bas Andries is a testament to the power of creative synergy. In a world and in an era where art often seeks to break free from the confines of tradition, their work stands as a beacon of innovation and beauty, a reminder of the endless possibilities that arise when two distinct worlds collide.
All photos courtesy of Bas Andries.