South-African born photographer Zak van Biljon finds inspiration for his work in the complex relationship between humans and nature. He explores a variety of themes ranging from notions of reality and perception to the interplay between nature, humanity, urbanity and art. Most importantly, he challenges our universal understanding of the natural world. As a master of the infrared photographic technique, van Biljon creates lustrous, alluring effects in his photographs that surpass the conveyance of an aesthetic perception of nature. While the upcoming exhibition leaves room for van Biljon’s unmistakable landscape images that reveal to us the sensations resulting from experiencing nature in an alternate color universe, the focus lies on photographs that examine themes of abstraction. That is to say, the artist is calling attention to nature’s ability to abstract itself in different ways.
Amongst other things, nature has a tendency to abstract itself in intricate structures such as branch wood or flower fields. Both of these structural forms have been the subject for different photographic series by Zak van Biljon. Selected pieces from both series have been singled out for this exhibition and curated alongside van Biljon’s signature landscapes. In particular, the new works point to intricate natural microcosms encapsulating the dynamics of rule and disorder that underlie the existence of the natural and the human world. Van Biljon’s photographs of thicket, branches, flower fields and meadows fascinate due to their densification of patterns and details. The employed infrared photographic technique brings out seemingly contradictory color accents which are sprinkled throughout the natural sites captured by the artist. As a result of this, we perceive not only the painterly but also the abstracting qualities of nature on a heightened level. Van Biljon’s photographs show us, in other words, how nature creates and simultaneously dissolves its own forms.
Further on, nature’s ability to abstract itself becomes most prominent in van Biljon’s photographs of water surfaces, which are the latest addition to the photographer’s oeuvre. These images reveal the material properties of water and illustrate, again, how nature abstracts and fragments itself on various levels. Van Biljon captures the exact moments where the mirrored forms on the water’s surface are being dissolved, fragmented and abstracted by the movements of the liquid element. However, what is, perhaps, most striking about this set of photographs, is their monochromatic golden color. So to speak, van Biljon further challenges our perception of nature, while staying true to his medium—the infrared. The liquid element captured by the artist is not only transformed in its coloring but also seemingly in its materiality. The artist—quite literally—turns water to gold.
In essence, van Biljon reflects upon notions of transformation and abstraction which are central elements and themes when it comes to the natural world. However, oftentimes it takes an artist’s skilled eye to draw attention to such processes. The curated image selection highlights the wide range of sensations to be experienced when viewing infrared photography and it gives a comprehensive understanding of Zak van Biljon’s ever expanding infrared universe.