Visual artist Chantal Elisabeth Ariëns’ melancholic photographs bring together the strength of our human inner self with our graceful, fragile, physical exterior. The tactility of couture, voile, feathers in her world, inhabited by elegant women, shed light on our emotional life. There we stand on the threshold between deed and dream in stillness, and desire. With her visual stories, Ariëns is able to depict movement and serenity in the same moment, transporting us to an in-between world where our soul, consciousness and dreams roam. Her work shows moments that are at once now and eternal, at once full of pure light and every shadow imaginable.
The images often seem to announce something that is yet to come, they are merely an inhalation just before the moment suprême. The inspiration of these translucent moments is what we long for so intensely, and Ariëns knows exactly how to translate this into her photographs.
Ariëns’ work breathes freedom and independence. Her autonomous working method and her way of photo- graphing couture, the latter sometimes in close collaboration, complement each other. The uniqueness of her autonomous and fashion photography is enhanced by the fact that she works with photopolymer etching; an old printing technique. In this time-intensive and manual process, the artist uses a printing plate exposed with photopolymer film, then uses ink and her hands to bring the images to life. This process allows her to work like a painter, she strokes layer upon layer with her hand so that the ink spreads across the art prints. The image literally appears under her hands, allowing her to add subtlety and refinement intuitively. This handwork ensures that Ariëns creates maximum space for the decisive moment; the moment when she recognises the liveliness and soul in her images. And so she captures, grasps and embraces the right image, the work of art, again and again.
Ariëns is educated at The Ballet Academy in Tilburg (The Netherlands) and worked as a professional dancer. Because of this background, she not only knows what dance moves should look like, but also how they feel physically, and precisely because of this, she conveys that feeling like no other. At the age of 30, she started her photography career and worked for several international magazines. From 2017 she focuses on her personal work and from there her collaborations with couture emerged.
Black is a deeply vibrant colour, perhaps even the most vivid colour of all. That is a certainty after seeing Ariëns’ work. The nuances of black expose the layers of our perception and fan out in such diversity that they lift us. For a moment we can feel the tactility of the textiles on our skin, for a moment, the enchanted world created by the artist envelops us. It’s like taking a deep breath at the seaside, we fill ourselves with both the uncertainty and the ultimate joy of life. And then we dance, we live, long and reach out into infinity.