Lisa Small, Senior Curator of European Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, writes about this collaboration: ‘This project, aptly named Synergia, brings together the evocative photographs of artist Carla van de Puttelaar and the innovative garments of fashion designer Iris van Herpen. It is a collaboration grounded in their shared fascination with the expressive possibilities of the clothed human body and the shapes, textures, and hues of the natural world. Van de Puttelaar’s photographs of van Herpen’s garments, and the garments themselves, also reveal a Baroque sensibility: intimations of movement and metamorphosis; spatial dynamism; and the spectacular use of light and saturated color on skin and fabric.’
She goes on emphasizing the connection of van de Puttelaar’s work with the compositions and techniques of historical European art, and the direct references to painters such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio, using natural light to create a bold contrast between light and shadow to increase the dramatic and sculptural feel of her images. Building up compositions by using fabrics and to, as Small relates: ‘complement and enclose the body, to activate and create rhythm across the visual field’. Iris van Herpen, as a fashion designer, is of course also concerned with fabrics. Lisa Small aptly states that: ‘Her collections, which have been inspired by magnetic forces, sound waves, cosmology, different states of matter, cellular structures, and the infinite patterns of the natural world, conjure the invisible organic processes that shape the world.’ They reflect the dynamism of Baroque art and that ‘the experience of her immersive runway presentations is akin to that of a grand cathedral, where architecture, painting, sculpture, music, and light are brought together to intense spiritual effect. In van de Puttelaar’s Synergia photographs, a diverse group of models wearing van Herpen dresses appear to materialize from a black void. They glow like celestial bodies in a dark galaxy, or mysterious creatures from the ocean depths made momentarily luminous.’
Small concludes by writing: ‘As image and object makers, Carla van de Puttelaar and Iris van Herpen are both attracted to the beauty, complexity, and symbolic potency of nature and the human body.’ By bringing these two brilliant artists together Pien Rademakers intuitively perfectly catches the zeitgeist. In these uncertain times there is a great need for imagination and beauty, and in this exhibition everything comes together in a true synergy of creative forces.