The Enduring Lustre of the Golden Age: an Interview with Irene Wijnmaalen

Posted on August 26th, 2017

Irene Wijnmaalen is a fine art photographer regarded for the contemporary subtlety she stoically imbues to each artwork. Fascinated by the Golden Age era of portraiture, she has used this aesthetic to carve out a distinct style of fine art photography.

How does your own work reflect The Devil Inside Me
The challenge is to create portraits in a subtle way in which the viewer can develop his or her own interpretation of the Devil is inside, even perhaps, inside themselves.

Irene Wijnmaalen. Fur. Photography. 2017. Edition of 30.

What makes the Golden Age interesting to you?
It’s my main inspiration in portrait photography. The Golden Age saw the craftsmanship of portrait painters develop a unique and distinct aura, style, and use of light. The Golden Age was an era of innovation - the artist made great strides in how they captured characteristics and rendered their sitters; artists began to shift from predominantly religious paintings toward creating portraits of real life, common people.

What do you believe is the most important difference between your works and a Golden Age portrait (apart from using an entirely different medium)? 
The Golden Age portraits were contemporary in their own time, so by making use of my inspiration from these portraits, I try to create an extra layer of depth. I think the main reason then was to depict the people as they were; I use my inspiration more to depict a mood.

Irene Wijnmaalen. Gaze. & The Furie. Photography. 2017. Editions of 30.

At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
That was not so long ago. I bought a camera and started to do street photography. In my street photography I was mostly attracted to the ways of shooting people on the street; it was within a studio that my creativity began to flow, I then realised, “this is it”! I have been always interested in photography, it was about finding a way and style of photography that suited me best.

What road did you take to get here?
I’m autodidact. I learned a few techniques by viewing internet tutorials and reading books - especially absorbing art books. Then, my Imagination and inspiration started to flow. I came in contact with PHoA beacause I display my works on Facebook, and it was through a friend that pointed my work to PHoA.

Irene Wijnmaalen. Princess of Darkness. Photography. 2017. Edition of 30.

What message do you want to adress trough your works?
I want to show beauty and challenge my audiences to look and search for deeper layers.

Do you have a specific process you go through to create new ideas?
Most of the time I draw inspiration from unexpected moments. These ideas will linger in my mind until finally, a concept can be formed. When I have a shoot with a model, these concepts take shape in an organic way; when the model has this special aura, ideas run wild.



Written by Amsterdam-based Freelance Writer, Rose Heliczer for The Public House of Art.

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