SCHELTENS & ABBENES
In 2002, Maurice Scheltens (1972) & Liesbeth Abbenes (1970) put an ampersand between their names, to visualize and consolidate their working relationship. Scheltens & Abbenes are the sum total of the unique talent of a still-life photographer and the creative craftsmanship of an artist. Technical perfection added to individual handicraft, strong pictorial clarity in addition to tailor-made settings.
Combining their distinct but partly overlapping fields of expertise, Scheltens & Abbenes create commissioned photographs for large companies such as Valentino, Hermes, COS, Louis Vuitton, Arper, Maison Martin Margiela, Scholten & Baijings and Yves Saint Laurent and magazines such as Fantastic Man, The Gentlewomen, Vogue US, Pin-Up, The Plant and New York Times Magazine.
In addition to their applied work, the duo also show their projects in cultural institutions such as Galliera Musée de la Mode Paris, The Art Institute of Chicago, Foam museum of photography Amsterdam and the Kunsthal in Rotterdam.
The specialty of Scheltens & Abbenes is to meticulously arrange objects - chairs, glassware, shirts, perfume bottles - into configurations that have a strong two-dimensional or graphic character. A good example is a series of photographs for the magazine Fantastic Man. Here, they arranged a collection of knitted sweaters in such a way that the patterns and straight lines conjure up the 1920's tradition of Russian constructivism, thus combining the lavish richness of fashion with the puritanical strictness of Modernism. In other photographs Scheltens & Abbenes reduce their objects to clean geometric lines, showing an understanding that the settings will ultimately only exist as a two-dimensional image. This can be seen for instance in the work for Hermes, in which a collection of orange packing boxes is placed in straight alignments, creating sharp rectangular shapes and figures. In other works their focus is more on arranging objects in such a way that they form an entirely new object altogether.
Essential to their work is the process in the studio where they construct their settings. A laborious process, in which Scheltens & Abbenes continuously move things around, painstakingly join pieces together and adjust little details. During this series of steps they take numerous shots and study them together intensively in order to arrive at the right composition. Scheltens & Abbenes take absolute liberty with their objects. Instead of presenting the objects as plain sellable products, they often manipulate and utilize them as building blocks for new compositions. The autonomous artistic quality of the photograph always has to prevail. Scheltens & Abbenes deliberately choose to operate both in the field of applied and autonomous art and use them as breeding ground for one another.