Over the past decade, Dutch photographer Bert Teunissen has documented hundreds of old European homes in which the primary interior feature is natural light. The homes Teunissen photographs were built before the World Wars, before electricity was a standard feature, a time when natural light played an important role in the design of homes. These stunning photographs are full of Old World details—ornate wallpaper, ancestral portraits, home-cured hams hung from exposed beams, and decorative dishware proudly displayed on mantels. Teunissen renders these last vestiges of old Europe with a palette and sensitivity to light that recalls great Dutch master painters such as Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt. This is Bert Teunissen’s first major U.S. exhibition and features thirty prints, including several panoramic images. The Aperture Gallery exhibition follows on the heels of two critically acclaimed shows that took place this winter at the Photographers’ Gallery in London and Huis Marseille Museum for Photography in Amsterdam.
The genesis of Teunissen’s work is intensely personal. When he was eight years old, the traditional house he grew up in was knocked down and replaced by a new modern one. For him, the new home lost its character along with its sense of light and atmosphere. The locations he photographs for this series evoke this lost childhood home. Domestic Landscapes dovetails with two photographic traditions-
the use of the camera to record the culturally vestigial and a strain of portraiture that looks at subjects in their own environs. Made in numerous countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal, Teunissen’s poignant, luminous photographs capture and record architecture-and a way of life—that will soon be gone forever.
Commenting on his work, Teunissen states: ‘The inhabitants of the houses I seek and photograph, still know how something should taste, how it has to be made; they understand the importance of time and ripening, they know the meaning and value of repetition-
daily-yearly . . . Their houses and ways of life are fading out of our societies, forever, together with their knowledge. It is my aim to capture this, wherever I can find it, before it disappears completely.’