“Where’s Wally/Waldo” for adults. – Bart Ramakers, exhibition & book
On a slightly lighter note – photographer Bart Ramakers (1963-) is driven by beauty and friendship. He sublimates beauty in sensuality and eroticism, and friendship is reflected in his collaborations and in the choice of his ‘actors’.
His early works seemed to be inspired by Marc Lagrange, but he quickly evolves into a completely individual style with grand two-dimensional tableaux. . The strength of the images also relies on an elaborate mise-en-scène, set setting and a meticulous choice of locations.
Some knowledge of classical culture (the judgment of Paris, Olympia & Cupid …), art history (Raphael, Manet, Rops, da Vinci & Gabrielle d’Estrées …), religion (the last supper), fairy tales (Perrault), literature ( Beaudelaire) and architecture (the Horta-Lambeaux pavilion of the human instincts) – can help to appreciate the images, but are by no means necessary.
His more recent work contains a critique of certain social developments: his Automats For A New World urges us to rely less on machines and to radically opt for self-determination. This is also reflected in the collaboration with sculptor William Sweetlove where both are driven by an ecological commitment. Sweetlove’s Greek goddesses carry the scarce water we have left in a container on their backs, and Ramakers has depicted them photographically.
The historian in Ramakers punctuates his images with references, the photographer celebrates friendship through his photography. He frequently introduces people from his immediate environment or artist friends. E.g. we recognize Panamarenko and William Sweetlove in two of the attached images.
Sometimes it seems as if the characters are re-enacting scenes from a comic book in the style of Manara. A general atmosphere of playfulness and humour prevails and the photographer has the necessary self-perspective: he often figures himself in his images.
The exhibition “Scream of the Butterfly” by Sweetlove and Ramakers can still be visited at Galerie Papillon, Marie Joseplein Ostend Belgium, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2pm to 6pm until May 30th.
For those who can’t get enough, there is the book Revelations – Myths for a New Renaissance, an overview of 10 years of photography, with 130 large-format images (31 x 41 cm). A beautiful coffee table book in three languages (English, French and Dutch) with 192 pages, bound in a linen hardcover with a dust jacket. For 65 euros it is all yours.