Acid Flowers, the second solo-exhibition of Dutch photographer Louise te Poele for TORCH gallery in Amsterdam, will open on Saturday the 27th of January between 5-7pm. With this exhibition, Louise will introduce a new body of work by means of a spectacular gallery-filling installation. Where her previous work was made in the spirit of the 17th century Dutch masters of the still life, these new pieces are futuristic flower arrangements bathing in bright neon lights. She orchestrates wondrous compositions of found objects that playfully disrupt suggestions of movement, scale and vanitas. After the opening the exhibition will be on view until Saturday the third of March.
A defining factor in the artistic practice of Louise te Poele is the idea of anachronism. She believes that many ideas and systems exist alongside, or even in stark contrast with the visual language of an often oppressive zeitgeist. Her subject matter isn't fashionable or bound to trends. Subjects range from Dutch farmers to flower arrangements and abstract compositions constructed from packing materials. In other words, she stays close to her daily surroundings. Within these well-known materials she searches for an unexpected beauty of invention. Her personal investment in the subjects gives her the intimate knowledge and trust that is necessary to achieve free and intuitive creation. The flowers in her most recent works glow with a bright, almost venomous light. They take control of the composition with an extraterrestrial vainglory. Withered leaves and snapped stems are part of a festive play of lines and no longer function as overbearing references to vanitas or decay. If these works can be recognized as metaphors for a life cycle at all, then they celebrate both growth and decay in equal measure.
The front space of the gallery is reserved for older pieces from her Farmer series. In this body of work Louise has portrayed farmers of the Achterhoek region in the Netherlands. They certainly aren't flattering portraits. Rather, they give a more honest account of the rough skin and no-nonsense attitude that come with this path in life. Fragments of these raw textures and glaring lights are repeated in her later still lives, where they can be found in the surfaces of displayed objects. The bright red cheeks of a farmer find their visual counterpart in displays of lamb chops and the scales of a red snapper. Here, louise plays with both the appeal and the moral discomfort of displaying a slab of raw, red meat. By emphasizing textures and contrasting them with 'unnatural' materials such as cellophane or fabrics, she has found a way to capture her subjects in a surprising new perspective.
This development is continued into her most recent works. Walking on a pink carpet through a vibrant floral arc, visitors to the gallery are offered a first glimpse of these new pieces. The neon lit flowers seem to glow like corals at night. Where a nearly absolute painterly realism was desirable - and even a display of wealth - in 17th century Europe, the still lives by Louise are not realistic. They do not display any real valuables and they are not in fact, still. While entering a hallucination one sees a dental cast rest besides a partly peeled lemon while a red fish hovers above a jar of frankfurters. The meticulous lighting combined with Louise's keen sense for colour make for a truly alienating experience.
Louise te Poele (1984) lives and works in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Here, she graduated from Artez academy in 2008. Her works has been exhibited worldwide ever since in places like Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Berlin and Istanbul. Her work is part of the collections of the Dutch Embassy in Japan, the French state and Museum Arnhem. Her work is represented by TORCH gallery in Amsterdam.