Artist Saskia Boelsums tells us more about her contemporary photographs inspired by still life paintings from the Dutch Golden Age… 

What is it about Young Masters that you are most interested in?

I have always been interested in history. How we lived, what visions and opinions we had, what our world looked like and what role art and artists played in it. History has shaped us and now it is our turn to be the history of a new future. That is the concept from which I like to reflect on my own artistic work.

Can you explain to us what your work is about?

I am a Dutch artist and I am inspired by the light, material expression, colour/tone, and composition of the old masters. Also I am fascinated by the symbolic value of the objects, food, flowers and animals they use in their paintings. Dutch painters whose work I am inspired by mostly lived in the period 1550-1720, the golden area of still life painting, from Pieter Aertsen en Joachim Beuckelaer to Rachel Rusch ans Jan van Huysum. I was touched especially by the use of light and the material expression of the old paintings, and I very much like the atmosphere.

In my early pictures I tried to, more or less, copy the old masters to learn from them. Not literally of course, but I used the same objects, composition and light. Later I developed my own approach of still life by using, inter alia, materials the old masters will not have known, but nevertheless are very common nowadays, like plastic, ice blocks, exotic fruits and food and modern curtains.

I choose to make photos of the still lifes. Of course I could have painted them, but I feel it is more interesting to use a modern camera and modern techniques to make contemporary still lifes.

I very much approach my still life photography as if I am a painter. Quite special -I think- is that I use natural light only. I found that this is one of the main factors for the special atmosphere in the old paintings.

Which artist/s are you most inspired by?

Artists who inspire me most are artists that have the guts to explore and develop new ways of making art. Maybe a special technique, craftsmanship, personal development, or a very personal style. Picasso for example did this during his whole life and explored new ways of looking, applied new techniques, chose unexpected subjects, made new interpretations. It is this ongoing renewal that I admire.

Can you tell us something about your background?

I was educated as a visual artist at the Minerva Academy in Groningen, the Netherlands.

What inspired you to become an artist?

My parents inspired and encouraged met to develop my creativity. Night after night all of our family were drawing and paintin at a large table full of crafting materials. I loved doing that and actually I continue doing this, even now.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

Unhappy 😉                                                

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?

My greatest achievement is that I enjoy making art to the full every moment. It simply makes me happy.

What are your plans for the future?

Keep on doing what I do now, respect the old masters and at the same time play and experiment with new insights and techniques, work hard and enjoy every minute of it.