"Those people belong there—that's what you feel when you look at the pictures." —Bert Teunissen
Over the past decade, Dutch photographer Bert Teunissen has documented hundreds of old European homes. These are rudimentary yet cultured settings aglow with a warm, timeless atmosphere, spaces in which a primary interior feature is natural light. Old World details crowd the frame in Pino del Oro #3, which was taken in Spain. The home pictured here was built before the World Wars, before electricity was a standard feature, during a time when sunlight played a pivotal role in the conception of architecture.
The art press has noted that Teunissen renders these last vestiges of old Europe with a palette and sensitivity to light that recall Dutch masters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. After such comparisons, Teunissen "understood that the kind of light I used in those pictures is the same kind of light as painters used in those paintings—it's old and antique light, the kind you rarely see anymore." This photograph, and the whole of the artist's project, published by Aperture as Domestic Landscapes (2007), dovetails with two traditions—the use of the camera to record the culturally vestigial and a strain of portraiture that looks at subjects in their own environments. "Domestic Landscapes is a parallel story about atmosphere and light on the one side, and authenticity and originality on the other," says Teunissen. His poignant photographs capture and record architecture—and a way of life—that the artist fears is "fated to disappear as a consequence not only of architectural standardization but also of social displacement and shifts in public opinion about life and how it should be lived. All you can do now is cross the country and hope that you still find places that have been left alone, and left in peace."
Bert Teunissen's (born in Ruurlo, The Netherlands, 1959) work has been exhibited across Europe and the United States and published in many magazines, including Aperture, Zoom, and Art on Paper. He lives in Huizen, the Netherlands. In 2007 Aperture published his book Domestic Landscapes: A Portrait of Europeans at Home.