Surreal Encounters

Scarlett Hooft Graafland’s (b. 1973) first solo exhibition at Flowers Gallery, London, invites the viewer into a surreal landscape where a diverse selection of people and objects are positioned in some of the most desolate corners of the world. From 29 March, Discovery offers a dreamlike collection of images which showcase over a decade of environmental exploration and creative composition, from settings as far reaching as Madagascar, Vanuatu and Bolivia.

Whilst the performances may be temporary, the photographs make permanent the fleeting movements of figures across ancient and untouched topographies. Interwoven throughout the work are local stories and customs, highlighting Hooft Graafland’s fascination with cultural mythologies and remote areas of the earth. The artificial is momentarily combined with the natural, resulting in a fantastical configuration. The objects utilised are not strange in essence, however, the dynamic use of colour, bold arrangements and juxtapositions of cultures turn the familiar into the unknown. Using both the rich palette of the organic scenery and the vibrant hues of the props, the collection dazzles the eye and draws spectators into these remarkable pictures.

Discovery examines a range of themes as diverse as the climate it captures. Touching upon the fragility of nature, identity and the erosion of traditional cultures, the show is cemented in global issues of environmental and social appreciation. The practitioner engages with local people, meticulously crafting situations to generate visually arresting images. The difficulty that the Amsterdam-based artist faces in these unforgiving and inhospitable locations is largely hidden beneath the minimalist aesthetics.

Despite referencing Dali and Magritte, the Hooft Graafland’s varied use of performance, sculpture and photography craft a unique and dynamic portfolio. Amongst widespread critical acclaim, philosopher Maarten Doorman has admired the photographer for this: “With her analogue camera and anthropological patience, she reclaims landscapes and fleeting civilisations from an indifferent visual culture.” This statement demonstrates the integrity at the heart of the artist’s vision, validating a commitment to the world that she elegantly captures.

Scarlett Hooft Graafland: Discovery, 29 March – 29 April, Flowers Gallery, London. Find out more:

1. Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Still life with Camel, (2016). Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York.