10 Questions With Reginald Van de Velde

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What does art mean to you?

“I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer to this one. Personally, art should always evoke an emotion and should raise questions in the viewer’s mind. These emotions and questions will always be a mixed bag of excitement, awe, bewildering, repulsion, serenity, …”

What is your background, what is your story?

“I’m a graphic designer in a big advertising agency. The way I layout stuff and design things for my daytime job can be translated in how I compose and frame my pictures. I’m a sucker for mathematical correct pictures. A horizon should be straight. Even the slightest tilt of a single degree renders the picture into something your mind will label as a flaw. And it’s the same with designing stuff. A good balanced design works. Safe to say graphic design and photography share the same patterns.”

What inspired your works?

“Edward Burtynsky, Andreas Gursky, Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre, for their perfectionism and truly inspiring work.”

How do you feel when you are creating? How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

“In a first stage unrest takes the upper hand. But the more time you spent on a location trying to capture that perfect moment of solitude, peace and calmness takes over. Until the security van pulls over, you switch full memory cards with empty ones, and prepare for The Great Escape in a true Steve McQueen style.  A piece is only finished when it has gone through the proper post processing, printed in large, and seen at full size on a wall. I’m a happy man when it reflects the same feeling I had whilst being at that location.”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

“I’m showing a world no one ever sees. I’m showing a world that’s right behind your corner: you have passed it a thousand times, but you were never aware of its existence. I’m showing a forsaken world left in neglect, but filled with grandeur & beauty.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

“Photography. I don’t think traditional oil paintings in an abandonment would work: by the time your piece is finished the ceiling collapsed.”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

“People usually don’t misinterpret a picture of an abandoned place. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on. But there are many occasions when people aren’t aware of the amount of time and effort that goes into researching and finding these places. Far too many times have I been contacted by film studios, TV production units and location scouts all asking me one thing: where is this, where is that. On one occasion a film crew just demanded my complete database of locations, like it was a “normal thing to do”. Advertising agencies are also very pushy towards getting info out of me. Couple of months ago I was contacted by an agency that was in desperate need: “we can’t find a bunker for a shoot next week, please help”. ““Try the French coastline””, I replied. ““The one on the West, not the French Rivièra that you know damn too well””.

What advice do you have for other artists?

“Reach for the moon. And if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works?

“That I have tried to show the lost grandeur, stark beauty and sheer momentum of our fragile abandonments.”

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