Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Introduction & José Damasceno

Mar 02, 2017 - Erik Franssen

When Sebastian and Simon from Der Greif proposed the artist blog I was delighted and apprehensive at the same time. Occasionally I post on my Instagram account, but now I have to write about the work of others as well, something I’ve never done publicly before. I love to show the artists I admire, but there are so many great ones around, how is it possible to choose? Well, telling myself that there is no right or wrong way in this case, here we go, I’m just going to do it and share my personal interests.
As a kid being bullied, drawing and looking at the pictures of musicians in magazines were an escape for me. Later in my teenage years this resulted in an obsession with horror movies, Punk and New Wave music and in a photography course at my High school, where the magic that occurred in the darkroom fascinated me. I didn’t know anything about photography and it’s history or what sow ever, I was fourteen, so my pictures weren’t really photographs, more snap shots, not even that, but I was intrigued by the technique. I decided I wanted to become a photographer. With the help of a friend who was a little older I educated myself and after one unsuccessful attempt I got into the Royal Academy of fine arts in The Hague in the Netherlands. It was a bumpy ride, but a whole new world opened up to me and during that period I started to take in all the art and culture I could get my hands on, mostly through library books and shows I visited.
Art books are still a great way for me to discover new work. I love to roam about the bargain department of The American Book Centre here in Amsterdam, where I live, and stumble upon something new and inspiring. For me it is such a joyful way to be surprised and so different from an online search. I get to discover new work through its photographic representation, some of which I’ll probably never see in reality. The print stands between me and the actual artwork like a paper thin layer. I have to use my imagination and interpret what I see and the work stays mysterious that way. Sometimes I like the print even better than the actual piece. Exhibited in a book I can enjoy the work on my own terms. I hope you do as well.


José Damasceno – Most recent find


I had not heard about the thought provoking work of Brazilian artist José Damasceno until I found a book about him a few weeks ago, The last couple of years, probably because of my Mental Considerations series, my interest in contemporary sculpture has grown and I pay more attention to sculptor monographs. What I admire (and envy) in sculptors like him is their ability to handle and transform all those different materials. Something I’m still figuring out. When I read the accompanying texts I’m sometimes shocked by what the work I look at is made of. Although the cover of the book doesn’t do justice to his body of work, the images struck me for their strong poetic language. In sculpture I have a feeling one can almost literally capture a thought or concept into a work of art. Looking at “Can You Hear Me?” for example, I get the concept of sound immediately, also endorsed by the title of course, which I saw secondly, but a moment later it’s total silence that I see, as if the work has sucked in all the sound and kept it there. Damasceno’s work gives you a new perspective on the world, it’s so poetic in its simplicity, I love the power in that.