Jan Kempenaers is most known for his large-scale, panoramic and detailed images of industrial and urbanized landscapes in Europe and Japan. Fascinated by today’s hybrid landscape in which the differences between center and periphery, city and country, and culture and nature are no longer clearly defined, Kempenaers evokes in several ways the notion of the picturesque, which originated in the eighteenth century. In the aesthetics of the picturesque, the severe geometry of the French garden was exchanged for a predilection for the whimsicalness of natural landscapes contaminated by human interventions and cultural remnants. Furthermore, in the picturesque, nature was approached indirectly, through pictures. On the one hand, nature was perceived as if it was a picture and, on the other, landscapes were carefully created and staged in situ. With his fascination for a particularly soft lighting and non-descript places where nature and city intersect, Kempenaers associates himself with the picturesque’s predilection for the pictorial framings of hybrid landscapes.
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