The beginning and starting point of Erwin Van den Brande’s works are images, movies, objects and scenes from everyday life that amaze, inspire or bring him piece of mind.
It is all about man’s quest for tranquillity, aestheticism, for “being” instead of “doing”, for confirmation and structure in our life. This often reveals humanity’s pettiness and a sense of absurdity.
Erwin Van den Brande’s images intend to derive reality of its context and thus render it timeless. He portrays reality as he experiences it, not as he or we see it. This allows him to distance himself from the actual world and from society. The images’ aim is to create an idyll and a utopia: a space for reflection, contemplation and tranquillity. A stimulus to daydream.
The female theme is a vital feature in his work. He likes to let them daydream and ponder. Often they are (semi-)naked and wearing lots of make-up. The women seem to be absent and this is emphasized by being unrecognisable, staring down, the closed eyes or the fetal position.
The common thread through his work is nostalgia, with which he connects the “past” to the “present”. This nostalgia is emphasized both thematically and formally. For example, by means of reusing existing images, desaturating colours, playing with focus and highlighting elements from the past. Digital collages complete this by using the various aspects of a topic in one image.
Erwin Van den Brande’s images have a clear and defined line, are abstract and focus on the essence. The colours are desaturated to combine the strengths of both colour and black-white pictures.
With their vast aesthetic appeal, Erwin Van den Brande’s images want to take the spectator on a journey of reflection and contemplation.
At the early age of 17 years old, Erwin Van den Brande was already a photographer. As many 70’s youths he was confronted with the budding medium that was photography. As so many others, he discovered the joys of having his own dark room. Albeit in those days his areas of interest were typically rock concerts and holiday photography, he was awarded various prizes. In that respect Erwin Van den Brande was ranked 2nd during the Procter&Gamble International competition for best “Dreft” advert and he won a photography competition pertaining to old buildings in Mechelen by entering a photocollage. During a lengthy period, for various reasons, photography was placed on the back burner. More than 2 decades later photography was taken up again and Erwin Van den Brande enrolled himself in a photography school in Antwerp. He was subsequently, once again, captivated by photography and found inspiration from contemporary international photographers.
He was very fast discovered by several art galleries and he had interesting articles in different magazines. In the most recent years he exposed his work at more then 17 exhibitions in different cities like Brussels, Antwerp, Namur, Spa, Amsterdam, London, Milaan, and Hong Kong. These successes motivated him to say goodbye to his job and partnership in an international company and to focus 100% on art and photography.
Erwin Van den Brande enjoys frequenting photography expositions and a yearly trip to the Photo Festival in Arles (France) has become a tradition. The future of photography mainly interests him: how will photography evolve in the coming years, what will be the impact of digital processing, how will other artforms affect photography? Additionally, questions pertaining to aesthetics:what makes a photograph attractive, how do other cultures in other countries view photography?
Erwin Van den Brande continuously works on different collections. Besides a collection based on Marie Antoinette (where he works together with another artist), he is also working on a series of photographs on “The World that Surrounds me”. This collection abstractifies images taken out of our daily environment, taking them out of their context, thus making them timeless and captivating. This series was recently discussed on an international art blog Mutantspace (see under "Quotes" on this website).
The series of photographs on everyday objects focusses on objects we all know, that plays a part in our lives or are a part of the collective memory. These objects are then taken out of their habitual surroundings and depicted in their simplest form. Consequently, the objects become uncharacteristic effect.The strength lies not only in the individual photograph, but also in the series.
One of his friends who has a house at the Belgian seaside, and is anavid collector of his work, asked him to take some shots of the Belgian Coastand its sea. The images had to be both nostalgic and peaceful. Besides that, the image needed to be powerful and illustrate the vastness of the sea and water. This was the starting point of a new series: Water Skylines. Even though upon first glance the images appear effortless, there is more to it than meets the eye initially.
A good friend and beautiful model/artist from Latvia challenged him to do a fine art nude shoot inspired by the sixties movie Le Mépris with Brigitte Bardot. Since the outcome of the shoot were some interesting images, he continued working on fine art nude, as a tribute to the beauty and the intriguing of women.
Antwerp Management School - one of the leading business schools in Europe - asked him to make an artwork for one of their classrooms. The classroom where the “Masters of Global Management” have their courses was already completely restyled during the summer. For this classroom they were looking for a piece of art that would inspire the students and had to represent the young and international character of the business school. The theme for the artwork was "Global Citizenship", as this is one of the pillars of Antwerp Management School. The place set aside for the artwork was the wall above the entrance door. Therefore, a long narrow piece of art (14m x 1,25m),would fit snugly and which could be felt in the entire room. This assignment let him switch form pure photography to more conceptual artwork and digital art.
As an artist he doesn’t want to be locked into a particular box. It is the benefit of an artist to retain his freedom and no to be imposed to rules.
His work is described as universal, timeless, yet modern and refined. His imagery entices the observer, allowing the observer to dwell upon the image, without infringing on the aesthetics.