‘l’Afrique’ by Ingrid Baars



"Women have always been a main source of inspiration for me and my subject for as long as I remember. In my series with the working title ‘l’Afrique’ I started out with a growing fascination for classical African art as was the case with many a western artist in the beginning of the 20th century. Like them I wasn’t as much interested in the ethnographic side of it but purely in the way the human form was conceived and treated by different peoples especially in West Africa.

I started to explore the various visual languages with the help and advice of close friends and in the process grew a special fondness to Fang sculpture. I sought out African female models for photo shoots in the studio and started what turned into a very serious project with much more angles and surprises than I originally expected.

There was the ever-present artistic component where I had to make numerous conscious and unconscious decisions. My work developed from more graphic combinations of classical African art with real female bodies towards a much more freer interpretation giving fashion and jewelry, closely linked to art, a place in my creations e.g. Iris van Herpen, Heaven Tanudiredja, House of Malakai. I always had a fascination for fashion.

In combining women of colour with the ‘abstraction’ of classical African art I not only encountered artistic challenges but I also touched on social economic issues associated with being a black woman, be it either in Africa or in the US as well as on the issue of cultural appropriation.

Although I’m not a political artist, I take issue with any of the above only in my work. My women are imbued with strength, emotion, pride, magic, they’re to be reckoned with. They’re real but forever harbouring their secrets.

They possess those unfathomable powers that men lack."

~ Ingrid Baars

Ingrid Baars graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in the early 90s and worked as an independent illustrator and photographer until 2009 when she decided to concentrate solely on her artistic career, which previously coexisted with her commercial activities. Her signature style came into being and grew from collage to full-blown digital treatment of her images as can be traced in previous series like ‘About Face’, ‘Inside/Outside’ and ‘ArtistLovers’.

Baars unique style of working is a one-person endeavor from the preliminary photo-shoot to the photographic manipulation. Her works are made entirely by her.

‘Afrique!' is an ongoing series of photographical digital collages shot and created by Ingrid Baars. The project is inspired by the richness of African cultural heritage in all its diversity, incorporating as it does both the human and the non-human. The amalgamation of classical African cult objects and real women enables the artist to transcend the natural and constitute an outerwordly realm that feels near but that is, upon closer inspection, quite unsettling; the aestheticism and romanticism of beauty are imbued with a deeper sense of awareness, of consciousness. Her images are beautiful, yes, but powerful as well. Although very much construed, they create their own reality and seem to possess a life of their own.

Popovy Sisters X Ingrid Baars collaboration

"As a child I was very passionate about dolls and whenever I got to choose one for myself I totally focused on her facial features above anything else. Of course it had to be a doll with great beauty but more important it had to be alive, as much alive as possible. It had to have a soul.

When I came across the work of the Popovy Sisters I was really excited.

Of course I was captivated by the beauty of their art-dolls, the Haute Couture and the finesse of their work but above all I was fascinated about the same edge between a living–creature with a soul and an innate object, a very fine line that I investigate in my own work as well.

There were more things in common; the large heart shaped heads, the elongated neck, the curly sexual lips, eyes put far apart.

The way the childish, the infantile is combined with strong features and expressions of grown up women is exactly what I also discovered in classical African masks and sculptures where part of my inspiration stems from for the series ‘Afrique’ that I’m working on (e.g. In Fang sculptures the artists show the connection between death and rebirth by combining infantile forms with that of adults).

Following each other from a distance for a while it seemed logical when I was asked by the Sisters to collaborate and have one of their dolls be my model for once."

~ Ingrid Baars

Limited Edition Prints

Archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta, 315 grs.

Both signed on reverse by Ingrid Baars & The Popovy Sisters 35" x 40" inch edition of 12 22" x 25" inch edition of 12

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