I Love Belgium interviews Athos Burez
From super models (check our last interview with Belgian hottie Cesar Casier) to photography, is only a small step. The I Love Belgium team met young photographer Athos Burez in the Ghent party scene a few years ago and even than there was something special about him. He has a master in fine arts and a master in photography. In his photography, he combines elements from both disciplines to give an imaginary twist to seemingly mundane daily life scenes.
His work got picked up quickly and now he's shooting editorials for Belgian lifestyle magazine Knack Weekend. He's also very popular in the music scene, shooting portraits of well known bands and musicians such as Compuphonic, The Magician, Love Like Birds, Van Jets, School is Cool and Teddiedrum for Focus Knack magazine. I Love Belgium had an interesting talk with this interesting and very talented young man.
ILB - It's 8.39am in the morning and I'm eating home made Belgian 'klaaskoeken', what's the last thing you ate?
At this moment a curry dish on a plane which was nice and filling but quite interesting because the menu was in Indian. I can still feel it in my stomach.
ILB - In your photography everybody looks skinny, are skinny people more attractive to you?
I mostly take pictures of my friends or friends of friends and most of the time they have a slender posture. I'm really not doing it on purpose. I always tend to photograph people in the most flattering way, with the perfect light and the best framing. I have pictures of all kinds of people but it's true that most of them are rather skinny. But then again, most Europeans are. I just like interesting faces for my portraits, faces that match my ideas.
ILB - I see a lot of influences in your work: Juergen Teller, Larry Clark, Liu Bollin,... Do you have actual idols or heroes that inspire you in your work?
You can find inspiration everywhere and I need it to create my ideas. In my daily life, I just look around, go to museums to study paintings, lose myself in the night on blogs...you always bump into something new. I love to be in my half asleep looking at blogs. The next morning you always remember a strange mix of them constructing a whole new image. I like specific parts of my idols: the tension between sex and power of Helmut Newton, the colours in Juergen Teller's photography, the imagination of Tim Walker,... even the daily snapshots of Eggleston.
ILB - I always sense a certain strangeness in your pictures. But it's something that doesn't bother me. On the contrary, it intrigues me. Do you want to live in a strange world?
I suppose we all look a the world differently, I like to focus on certain aspects of people, the little strange or funny sides of people. I try to create a universe for them and see what happens. It's a bit like a lifesize dollhouse.
ILB - When I first met you, you painted. I already loved your work back than. The naturalistic Lucian Freud-like paintings were very deep for such a young guy. Do you think you would start painting again one day?
I certainly hope so. I stopped because I felt like I mastered the technique to paint someone in a realistic in my way. But to me they were just studies. I wanted something more and couldn't find it at that time. So I figured it would have been better to give it more time and focus in the meanwhile on photography to realize my ideas and inspirations. I'm very happy though that I first studied visual arts because I use those elements in my photography: the focus on colour, clair-obscur, composition,...
ILB - You've lived in Ghent and now in Antwerp. What are the differences between these two cities? Do they give you different inspirations?
The music and of course the people are very different, although these two cities are only 40 minutes away from each other. But I'm getting used to it. The people also have a different kind of humor.
ILB - And our famous last question: why do you love Belgium?
I love it because people are so real and so fun. I love our history, the old buildings, the odd village architecture. It's fun to travel around, but It's always nice to come back home. We might be small but there's a lot of talent in Belgium competing on a world scale. We should be more recognized for our creative achievements.
ILB - And that's exactly what we are trying to do, thanks for the enlightened interview!