Between 2019 and 2020 Krien Clevis photographed Constant’s home studio in different stages of transition. Analogue photo’s taken from the same vantage point, capturing the studio at different moments in time before it got deconstructed and sold in October 2021.
Krien Clevis (artist/researcher/curator PhD) photographs so-called lieux perdus. These are meaningful places that in many cases no longer exist, because they are marked by change. Factors such as time and spatial surroundings, together with possible new palimpsest of construction have changed their appearance continuously. Clevis tries to (re)create these places in front of her camera. If they weren’t places of significance already, they become so through the photograph. In the process of change, she is searching for the genius of the place, and wonders whether it will be preserved despite, or perhaps thanks to, all the changes over time. Perhaps the concept of change might even cause new significances for the place.
Monkey and Studio
Clevis was particularly captured by Constant’s studio. Although abandoned, the studio seems almost untouched and exudes an atmosphere as if work is still being done there; the paintbrush can thus be taken up by the master’s hand again. Clevis followed the transformation process of Constant’s studio and captured it with her technical camera. She captured three different stages, both the front and the back of the studio, in the last years before the house and studio were sold.
For the photo’s Clevis took a low point of view, from the center of the studio towards the front and rear. With the photos she attempts to come face to face with Constant. With the low point of view aka “the monkey’s perspective” Clevis refers to the baboon in Constant’s painting De Schilder in zijn atelier from 1977.
In Constant’s studio a drawing of a monkey* sits on the fireplace. During the various stages of photographing Clevis carried the drawing around the studio. Through the different stages Constant’s presence seems to merge into his studio, almost visible in the colour of the floor, which gradually turns from red to blue. For a little while longer, his chair lingers in the last photo (photo 3.A).
*By Maartje Seyfert, Constant’s daughter in law.
De schilder in zijn atelier, 1977
Credit: Krien Clevis
The Printing Process
In 2020 Fondation Constant distributed the excess of Constant’s useful art materials amongst a group of young and contemporary artists. Clevis received a package of handcrafted printing paper (35 × 50 cm). Clevis decided to use this paper to print the photos of the front studio (in three phases 1.V., 2.V. and 3.V.) and the rear studio (1.A., 2.A. and 3.A.) by means of authentic offset pressing techniques.
She finds printer Jan de Jong of De Buitenkant willing to tackle the challenge. His printing and publishing house is located at a close distance from Constant’s house in Amsterdam and he knew Constant through their shared local pub Captein & co. However, printing the analogue photo on handcrafted paper proofs to be a demanding quest. De Jong engages in a battle between paper, ink and the photograph. As a consequence the photo will slowly dissipate.
A complete series consists of six prints: three images of the front and three of the back studio, numbered 1.A-V, 2.A-V, 3.AV. The series is printed in a limited edition of 5 and exclusively available in the Constant 101 webshop as an A-V pair of as a complete series of 6 photo’s.