For Elizabeth Koning, there are no boundaries. As a child I was fascinated by looking at the sky and see its different shapes clouds day after day. In the summer I liked to lay down in the grass for hours, staring upwards and watching the clouds form and leave again. It was A fascinating spectacle that never got boring.
For many years she lived and worked in Milan, Italy, then to London and then back to Milan again seeing a lot of the advertising world, the hotspots of northern Italy. After a while, she changed her job as a model, before the camera into organizing and managing a renowned Milanese model agency.
Through the modeling agency, she came into contact with the fashion houses that had to sell their collections. At the same time, she worked for a fashion magazine as the assistant to the editor-in-chief. The worldly fashion scene, refined intellectual, artistic, developing taste, Italy has given her a deeper cultural awareness. But also, of course, the unrestrained happiness and hot parties on the islands, on the rooftops, the views, the panoramas and everywhere you went there was ancient art and new, refined taste.
After fifteen years, she returned to the Netherlands, looking with a refreshed view at the typical Dutch cultural scene. Elizabeth is married has a daughter, Ottavia".
What is Photography for me
As a child I was fascinated by looking at the sky and see its different clouds day after day. In the summer I liked to lay down in the grass for hours, staring upwards and watching the clouds form and leave again. It was A fascinating spectacle that never got boring.
Photography involves a lot of introspection. The deeper you get, the more I realize that it’s all about what I am interested in, how I feel about it, and what I want to say to the people who view my work. As I shoot, I learn more about myself, what I value, and how I see the world.
This changes over the years. My work let me also share that perspective with others, it allows me to express myself— my opinions and beliefs. Photos make you feel. They can produce every emotion, from childhood memories, lightheartedness, liberation, surprise, to sadness, fear and excitement.
I refer to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image or that an image of a subject conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does." ! It is for the spectator to make a choice - or not.
What do you want to communicate through your shots?
A silence dialogue. Connecting and opening the communication for more depth in a turbulent World.
What camera do you work?
Canon and Hasselblad
Among the great masters of photography, who do you prefer?
As an art lover of manny diciplines as photography, paintings, sculptures, illustrations, fashion, architecture, music and poetry I am in love with Roger Ballen, Rineke Dijkstra and Jim Naughten fascinating photo series, Hereros, Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Paula Rego and so many more ....
Elizabeth Koning is an International award-winning artist, selected among the 25 Best Talented European Photographers.
The wrapping horizon and surrounded by cloudy skies
It seems like an excursion through art history, sometimes chronological, sometimes suddenly leaping in time. Icons of our unconscious world, that carry my personal picture language. The portraits have been photographed with a great deal of consideration and they are automatically examined with much attention. The persons seem very lifelike, because I slightly make use of the sfumato technique among st other things, but also because they are extremely realistically photographed, with all the details of the genuine face, wrinkles not excluded. They seem like renaissance portraits, Bellini, Rafael, Holbein. But at the same time painters like Co Westerik or Pyke Koch come into memory. She use the technique of the perspective well. It remains a Dutch signature.
The wrapping Italian horizon has been moved to the level of the Low Countries. The model is surrounded by cloudy skies, which in their full Dutch scope, give a spiritualized dimension. The landscape has been immersed in an estranged transparent atmosphere, like we can still contemplate from the towers in Tuscany nowadays. The work itself is best compared with the tempera art of painting, a method of painting in which pigments are mixed with an emulsion of water and egg yolk, used a lot in the Italian art of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, for both panel paintings and fresco. Tempera colors are bright and transparent, although there is little time to mix them because the paint dries really fast. Fluent transitions between colors are created by adding lighter and darker dots or lines to a dried up painted area.
Oil or beeswax gives it a silky shine.The portrait takes you in, it will bring on emotions. At first you examine it remotely and when you move closer towards it, you can see that the photograph has a skin as it were. It is like touching with your eyes. Such as the old masters did with the tempera technique, she will put on layer by layer until the exact sober color has been achieved. Because of this the photograph will obtain a velvet like, highly brilliant effect. She developed a tranquil style, within the Dutch photography. Although her technique is contemporary, she didn't join the mainstream. She want the models to be as clean as possible. She gives clothing recommendations in advance and she das the hair herself. Then I start to take the photographs. There are many windows and there’s studio lighting and that combination works really well. At that moment she still isn’t completely influenced by what it will become later on. After that, things will go instinctively. Actually she's molding the model and I want to reach for something that will touch emotions aesthetically, accentuate the best features of someone physically. Although all portraits show a character of their own, they nevertheless have become timeless.
Elizabeth Koning paint with pixels: portraits of adults, adolescents and children. It’s being built layer by layer. Sometimes elements will remain unused until I’ve found the right composition. Finally it will be printed in the laboratory, a master print. This print will be pasted on aluminum foil according to a special procedure and will be fixated between a highly glossed perspective, so the artefact can be placed tightly on the wall with two simple screws. Recently a professor, Erasmus MC, has bought two photo's for his art collection. In all surroundings it’s a great surprise what the effect will be. But however it will turn out, people will remain my most important subject.
Interview with Joanne Carter
Columnist for Vogue
Contributing Editor LensCulture
“Photography involves a lot of introspection”, Elizabeth Koning says in this candid conversation with Joanne Carter. “The deeper I get, the more I realize that it is all about what I am interested in, how I feel about it and what I want to say to the people who view my work. As I shoot, I learn more about myself, what I value, and how I see the world”. Each of Koning’s photographs are instantly recognisable, her style is celestial, abstract and suitably figurative. She is a photographer who wants to tell a story and she whisks the viewer on an excursion through art history. Occasionally chronologically and at others, seemingly swiftly bounding through time.
“My photographs testify of intensive, old-fashioned labour. You’ll see portraits of both adults and children, grown still, soberly, in almost painted surroundings”, says Koning. Highly skilled and utlising the ’Sfumato’ technique in much of her portraiture, Koning ensures all colours and tones are blended in such a subtle manner that they melt into one another but unlike a true painting with this effect, her photographs are prodigiously brilliant and perceptible lines and wrinkles are apparent. With a unique depth and intensity of colour, Koning’s images could also, in some respects be compared to the Tempera art of painting. Layer upon gorgeous layer create a fluidity between transitions.
There is an acute stillness within Koning’s portraiture. Her control of light and subtle digital manipulations are almost as complex as the master painters’ work that heavily influences her. It is apparent that Koning’s images tone down the bright areas and lighten the dark ones, producing a soft and imperceptible shift between the differing tones. The models themselves appear as ethereal, it is not possible to contextualise them, they appear to be eternal and immortal. By grace of ambiguity, Koning’s photography fascinates on an entirely alternative level to that of beauty. Renaissance portraiture of Rafaela and Holbien spring to mind when viewing Koning’s photographs along with heavy undertones of Pyke Koch’s magic and realist manner.
Much of Koning’s portraiture includes objects within each image, a model with a boat, or with a cat, for example, suggestive of a special meaning. The viewer enjoys a heightened breadth and physicality within each photograph as they search for the true veracity and interpretation.
Koning’s photographic vision is strongly influenced by associations with 15th Century Master Painters, namely the early Renaissance and the Flemish Primitives. Taken in isolation, juxtaposed between the layers of the foreground, the backgrounds in Koning’s images are bursting with information. Landscapes immersed in an estranged transparent atmosphere. Koning’s model’s appear, surrounded by cloudy skies. Clearly influenced by the 17th Century Dutch Landscape Master Painters too, her work fuses together the abstract as well as the figurative. Photographic Perspective is a masterstroke and key to Koning’s photography.
Born in the Netherlands in 1966, Koning has developed as an artist, first she became a model, working in front of the camera, later she managed a modelling agency and moved on to become an assistant of a fashion magazine. Her future was shaped and influenced by experiences of living between Milan, Italy and London, UK. All the while, during these years of artistic development, her imagination was running ahead of her work, formulating ideas for future photography before embarking on a full time photographic career.
In an art historical way, the borderline between art and photography is one that Konings is challenging and one that she infuses with a sense of abiding gentility.
“A photo can capture the essence of a person, sometimes in just one frame. This is an enormous challenge. But when it is achieved, it’s an incredible thing. Sometimes it takes a series of photos to express the nuances of that person, but either way photography has a way of showing those subtleties that can be hard to describe in words”.
Founder/Editorial Director TheAppWhisperer
BBC Regular Contributor
Columnist for Vogue
Contributing Editor LensCulture