Fotograf Magazine

Paul Bogaers

Rorschach’s Holiday and Gombrich’s Half-Duck

The Dutch photographer Paul Bogaers conceives of his works as riddles, creating combinations of various visual messages and offering them to the viewer. He does not use only his own original photographs; a regular at flea markets, bazaars and jumble sales, he searches for inspiration and source material – old picture postcards, amateur family pictures of unknown people, old book and magazine illustrations. He then combines these, creating connections which were not there before his intervention. He places photographs next to one another, turning them by ninety or hundred-and-eighty degrees, drawing over them, framing them. Apart from various combinations of paired photographs, Bogaers also produces series – one of the most famous of these is a cycle entitled Rorschach’s Holiday. Between 2008 and 2012 he collected at flea markets a number of old postcards and photographs depicting landscapes (mostly mountains, forests or shrubs near to lakes and brooks) reflected in water. He noticed that if turned by 25 percent, the landscape turned into a symmetrical blot. This symmetrical abstraction caused him to contemplate the connection between the randomly found image and the visual psychological method of the Rorschach test, which consists of several inkblots shown to a patient, who is then asked to fill in concrete forms. The patterns thus obtained were intended as a clue for the psychologist in their analysis of the patient’s personality. Paul Bogaers does not attempt an analysis of the viewer’s character in his work; he sees both Rorschach’s and his own newly discovered blots as a sort of general guide, offering various insights into psychology as well as to ways of seeing. According to the artist, two essential revelations can be gleaned through these found visual messages which arise from the familiar (and thus the largely uninteresting and overlooked):

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#24 seeing is believing