Female nude by Peter Day

Making small talk with Baudelaire 9

For the third year in a row Dutch art photographer Peter Day was being nominated last November for the Black and White Spider Awards in the category Nude. “Peter Day’s “Hommage a Samuel van Hoogstraten 2″ and “Making Small Talk with Baudelaire 9” are exceptional images entered in the Nude category, represent black and white photography at its finest,” according to Basil O’Brien, the awards Creative Director. A glance in a portfolio of constant quality.

Peter Day graduated in 1990 at what is currently known as the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. Ever since he earned his spurs in art photography, working with internationally renowned photographers as Erwin Olaf and Paul de Nooijer, exhibiting all over the world and receiving several awards and nominations.

From the earliest pictures on Day’s work has revolved around the search for the intrinsic value of an image. “An image beholds a deeper meaning that goes beyond the subject portrayed”, states the artist. That extra layer is defined by visual elements like composition, angle, abstraction, light and more. “They make an image match up in our minds, often without us being aware of that. For example, when the light source comes from below we are inclined to find an image scary. White stands for good and black for bad. Image makers often make use of those universal principals. My key-fascination is dissecting images, up to the point where only the most defining element is left. I create my own image with it accordingly, as a sub-answer in that search for the intrinsic value.”

Using nudes as models is not randomly chosen. To Day it is the only solution to a difficult problem. As a photographer he is tied to having a subject. Unlike a painter who can create from his own imagination. “The issue with that is that any prop, even a piece of clothing, leads away from the intrinsic value.

 A pair of jeans for example appeals to a different association than a suit or a jogging suit. The naked body is the most free-standing visual element, without references that interfere with my search.”

Day’s latest work also emerges from this working method. A number of sub-series, inspired by creations of other artists in which he recognized that extra layer. Piece by piece Day brought their art works back to the framework where the intrinsic value is based upon.

His ‘Piëta’ after Masolino for example handles change of subject. Where ‘Ignuda’ after Michelangelo is about angle as well as about the fact that the nudes that Michelangelo painted in the Sistine Chapel were strictly meant as decoration and not concerning any content.

And after reading the essays on art by Charles Baudelaire which he wrote around 1850, Day started a visual dialogue between the two artists. The series ‘Making small talk with Baudelaire’ should be considered to be a conversation about art and how to perceive it.

The last series the photographer has been working on emerged from an encounter in the local museum of San Diego. “I was struck by a tiny painting of the 17th century Dutch painter Samuel van Hoogstraten. He divided his still life “Feigned Letter Rack With Writing Implements” into four parts by using three ribbons. Such an unusual way to approach an image! When you take a closer look in history, you will find that not many art

works are divided that way. I like the more extreme visual solutions best because they define the boundaries of what we generally find agreeable in an image.” This resulted in  a series of nudes captured in the composition. “More than I anticipated it brought my work to the next level. And I was glad and honoured that that was also recognized and appreciated by the jury of the Black and White Spider Awards.” [Official Website]

Peter Day_Hommage a Samuel van Hoogstraten_6 Peter Day_Hommage a Samuel van Hoogstraten_11_Marianne of Orange-Nassau 3 Peter Day_Hommage a Samuel van Hoogstraten_Marianne of Orange-Nassau 1 Peter Day_Ignuda_10 Peter Day_Ignuda_11 Peter Day_Ignuda_12 Making small talk with Baudelaire 11 Peter Day_Making small talk with Baudelaire_3 Peter Day_Piëta_1



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