16 June 2022

In conversation with The Ravestijn Gallery

This September The Ravestijn Gallery celebrates its 10th anniversary. The gallery was founded in 2012 by Jasper Bode and Narda van ‘t Veer with a focus on inquisitive and provocative approaches to contemporary photography. This year, the gallery also became a participant of Amsterdam Art and joined in the 10th anniversary edition of Amsterdam Art Week. Reason enough to sit down with Narda van ‘t Veer and look back on the jubilee of the gallery, the start of her career, the Amsterdam contemporary art scene and the future of photography as an art form.

The beginning of a photography collection
Initially, Narda van ‘t Veer started her career more commercially. In her twenties, she studied at the Institute of Technology in the ready to wear industry specializing in fashion marketing. After, she started her own company and represented fashion photographers. Van ‘t Veer came more and more into contact with photography and started buying photo prints and books, even though she did not always have the budget for it. Photography was not really a collector’s item at that time. It was quite new. But after a few years, she had ten or twenty prints and then someone used the word ‘collection’. Van ‘t Veer: “I became more aware of what I was doing, what I liked and where my passion was going.” The works she collects are changing over the years. “What I like to buy now is different from what I bought thirty years ago. Although sometimes I look exactly for the same things in my collection.”

The start of a family business
Ten years ago, Narda was ready for a new challenge. This is when she started the gallery with Jasper Bode. Bode, who also used to be an agent, is Narda’s stepson. Both have a passionate feeling for photography and have over thirty years of experience in the field. It is a coincidence that two people with a lot of knowledge about photography ended up in one family and started their gallery. Both have their own preferences and way of thinking. “However, if we walk around an art fair and we both go in different directions, we always come up with the same choices at the end of the day”, says Van ‘t Veer.

Lens based art
In over thirty years the world of photography has changed. When Van ‘t Veer started, photography was more a classic craft. Now, photography is influenced, amongst others, by the use of the computer. Of the twenty-five artists that The Ravestijn Gallery represents, seven or eight never use a camera for their work. Their works are computer generated, found images or remakes. The camera is therefore no longer the starting point. This has been a major development over the past ten years. Photography is increasingly becoming an art form, just as important as painting or sculptures. The artwork is not always a photo print. Thomas Kuijpers, for example, is an artist who collects and peruses through media and turns this into pieces of art. Photography as such has evolved. The medium has been experimented with for years which resulted in fantastic photography based art pieces. Printing on different materials, cutting, slicing, painting on prints, you name it. The result is that more and more lens-based works are unique pieces as opposed to the more traditional editioned print.

Photography and NFT’s
Narda van ‘t Veer loves her physical collection. If she has bought a work, she has it framed and hung on a wall so she can see it everyday. NFT’s, for example, are totally out of sight for her. She mentions: “To think that I would buy an NFT and then have something exclusive that I can sell? No, we won’t be the first ones to get involved.”

Discovering new artists
To find new artists, Narda van ‘t Veer uses different channels. She uses the books that she has collected over the years. She also finds her inspiration online; every day she spends time on websites and Instagram. Van ‘t Veer receives a lot of photojournalistic magazines such as Aperture, British Journal and FOAM Magazine. One of the ways to stay up to date with what’s going on. “We also visit a lot of fairs”, Van ‘t Veer says, which was almost impossible the last two years. “I mean, we were doing great as a gallery, but I missed the information or the new trends that you sometimes see at fairs or meet people and say, ‘Have you seen this artist?’ So, the last two years we worked mostly on the computer, which is definitely not my energy. I like meeting people and going to fairs.”

The Dutch landscape
Van ‘t Veer thinks Amsterdam’s cultural institutions are good at recognising emerging artists and different fields of photography. “The Dutch are very well known for the applied arts and have a good eye for both young and older artists. The Dutch are a travelling people and very much internationally orientated. So they end up everywhere.”

Which Dutch institutions would Narda van ‘t Veer recommend to discover photographic artists? “FOAM is a great institution with a keen and energetic eye for presentation. They are also very much in the vanguard when it comes to new art photography.” In her opinion, Huis Marseille represents more classic photography. “And for the rest I would basically recommend all our colleagues at Amsterdam Art. There is more photographic art to be found than you would expect.”

By popular demand, the current exhibition of Michel Lamoller’s Anthropogenic Mass at The Ravestijn Gallery has been extended until 18 June 2022. After that, you can get excited for the next exhibition The Portrait, in which The Ravestijn Gallery brings an ode to the depiction of the human image. Included are works by Michael Bailey-Gates (US), Blommers & Schumm (NL), Koos Breukel (NL), Asger Carlsen (DK), Robin de Puy (NL), FakeShamus (US), Pacifico Silano (US), Inez & Vinoodh (NL/US,), and Patrick Waterhouse (UK).

The gallery is open Monday to Saturday 12:00 – 17:00 and by appointment.