top of page

#7 Photography as a medium

Speaking: Paul Bogaers

Photo Paul Bogaers from Portfolio 54, published by Galerie Pennings in 2002

In 1996, Paul Bogaers (1961) received a phone call from Harry Pennings. That phone conversation was the start of a long collaboration with the gallery. Paul Bogaers has been allowed to organize a solo exhibition three times. In addition, his work was regularly shown in group presentations and his work went to numerous art fairs.

Association and suggestion play a central role in the work of Paul Bogaers. "In the 1980s I worked a lot with socalled ‘found’ photos, existing images, mostly anonymous photos and amateur snapshots." He created an archive of existing images to be able to use up.

“I connect photos (self-made or found) to an often unexpected equivalent and thereby create new associations for the viewer. A new way of looking." With his ‘Photo Combinations’, Bogaers makes combinations of images, in or next to each other. “Through the rearrangement of the everyday, my performances are completely handed over to the eye of the spectators. Spectators whose gaze depents on the state of mind they are in."

The use of Objets trouvés (utensils) in the visual arts was a discovery by Marcel Duchamp in the early 20th century and was soon applied by other Surrealists and Dadaists, such as Man Ray. In the 1950s it was also applied again by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. On the other hand, it was not customary within photography to work with existing images. Boltanski already made installations with existing portrait photos in the 1980s, but he was an exception."

Paul Bogaers was one of the first in the Dutch art world to implement photography as a medium, as part of a larger whole. “The majority of my oeuvre consists of visual art where one or more photos play a central role. Slowly I switched from two-dimensional to three-dimensional. I do not consider myself a photographer, although everyone else seems to be doing this.”(Paul Bogaers studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Tilburg.)

Photo Paul Bogaers from the book Upset Down (2010)

“An artist makes what he wants to make. The artwork is connected to the artist. Whether or not that what the artist makes will fit in within the time and place and will become part of the mainstream, is simply the question."

An outsider in the field of photography. Perhaps that is exactly what appealed to Harry Pennings when he decided to call Paul Bogaers. “It was quite remarkable that Harry just called me. That did not happen often with artists. He had seen my work (I don't remember where) and said: "I think it's interesting. Can we meet?" A civilized voice.

I regularly exhibited at the Fotomania gallery in Rotterdam and so I ended up in the world of photography by chance. It could have been different."

Invitation exhibition 'In de Piepzak' at Galerie Pennings, 1997