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Work / Photography

Photographer Lonneke van der Palen’s mathematical but magical approach to still life

Lonneke van der Palen is a photographer who has an “almost mathematical sense of colour and design”. Her still life images feature carefully placed, suspended objects that question the rules of composition in a magical way.

A project for Hermes demonstrates Lonneke’s style perfectly. Entitled Symphony Mobile the series is a “philharmonic of miscellaneous objects”. “When I was asked to create an editorial out of this giant mobile for le Monde d’Hermes, I was immediately blown away by the size of the object. Instead of capturing it in its entirety, I decided to isolate certain objects in a random way to give them a new context.” Featuring set design by Eli Serres the project uses “mirrors and bright colours in the background,” Lonneke tells It’s Nice That. “I created a three dimensional playground which almost turned into two dimensional collage images on paper.”

Another project by Lonneke, The Plastic Bag is a more personal expedition but one that applies her thought process to a common object. “The representation of an everyday object that is central to a photo so aesthetical – almost theatrical – that it summons up entirely constructing associations and meaning.” The photographer’s ability to notice intricacies in the most mundane of objects resulted in this project. “The minute I arrived in Capetown South Africa, the plastic bag in the streets caught my eye immediately,” she explains. “Whether flying through the air blown away by the wind, hanging in trees or carried around by people, they gave a colourful addition to street life in a way I had never seen before.”

When we asked Lonneke to send us a couple of recent projects she also included Open Door, a project that was actually rejected by a client but is a piece she holds dearly. “This is actually an image which was rejected by Frame magazine,” explains Lonneke. “They wanted me to make the cover for their hospitality issue. The first thing in my head was the image of an open door and I decided to make it.” Going with her gut feeling resulted in some issues: “By playing with different colours and lines of nylon, all of a sudden, 2D turned into 3D. In the end Frame loved it, but thought it was too abstract for the cover. I actually feel really happy that it was never published commercially, I consider it as work of my own. Actually it’s my favourite at the moment.”

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Lonneke van der Palen: Hermes

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Lonneke van der Palen: Hermes

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Lonneke van der Palen: Hermes

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Lonneke van der Palen: Hermes

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Lonneke van der Palen: Hermes

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Lonneke van der Palen: Hermes

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Lonneke van der Palen: Hermes

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Lonneke van der Palen: The Plastic Bag

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Lonneke van der Palen: The Plastic Bag

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Lonneke van der Palen: The Plastic Bag

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Lonneke van der Palen: The Plastic Bag

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Lonneke van der Palen: The Plastic Bag

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Lonneke van der Palen: The Plastic Bag

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Lonneke van der Palen: Open Door