Six questions for
Bruno Roels

Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Bruno Roels.

Artist Bruno Roels
Lives in Ghent, Belgium

How do you describe your own art practice?

If photography can be described as ‘making copies of reality with some kind of photographic instrument’, then my practice can be described as research into the nature of copying: what does it mean to make copies, to make variations? What does it mean for the photographer and for the viewer? What does it mean to add information, or to subtract it? What does it say of the photographic processes?

What was your first experience with art?

There was a poster in one of the class rooms at my high school; it was a reproduction of a Life Magazine cover, a photograph by Walter Mitty: a gas station, somewhere in Texas, with an impressive sky full of clouds.
I think that staring at that image for all those hours prepared me for later, when I discovered Ed Ruscha’s early work (the gas stations). It felt like coming home, in a way, because the beauty and the matter-of-factness of the photograph was hard coded in my visual memory. And that experience paved the way to ‘feeling’ Baldessari’s work.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Nature, literature, psychology, anthropology and the work of artists that play outside the rules of the discipline they’ are active in.

But the greatest source of inspiration is the realization that any artist can do whatever he/she wants, there is no playbook. That’s liberating.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Apart from the obvious stuff (dark room materials, cameras, decent photographic paper) I mostly need some peace of mind. When I’’m down, stressed or sad I just watch Netflix.

When I’’m happy and at ease, my mind becomes free to wander and I get to do what I do. Luckily I lead a charmed life and I have a sunny disposition, so I’’m not sad or stressed that often.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’’m working on a book, and I’’m also experimenting with the use of chemicals in the dark room. The endless question: how far can one take black and white gelatin silver printing? (Without wandering in Dirk Braeckmans or Daisuke Yokota’s back yards.)

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I bought a stereoscopic photograph from the end of the 19th century this week; it’’s a photo of two pyramids, in Egypt. Ebay is awash with those stereoscopic prints, and they are all beautiful, but this one holds a particular attraction for me: I was jealous that I didn’’t make it myself: the composition, the colors, the print: it all fits. And it’s over a hundred years old.

All images are courtesy of Gallery FIFTY ONE, Antwerp.

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