Berndnaut Smilde: the cloud creator
Images did and still do have an enormous power over the human psyche. As we examine art images in (especially) world religions, one of the most significant symbols used to express the nature of the divine is the cloud. In Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek mythology the cloud stood symbol for creation, protection, fertility and divine power. The Ancient Hebrews represented Yahweh as a cloud. Moses received the law in a cloud and Jesus and Muhammad went to heaven in a cloud. In a secular view, the cloud is often referred to as something negative, as a sign of bad luck or especially in the Netherlands where clouds most of the time are ruining the precious rays of sunshine.
Throughout the art history artists used the image of the cloud (with or without their symbolic meaning) in their works including Magritte, Georgia O’Keeffe and Anish Kapoor. Since 2010 we can add a new cloud catcher to this list (and he’s Dutch!): Welcome Berndnaut Smilde!
Berndnaut Smilde’s stairway to heaven
Berndnaut Smilde was born in 1978 in Groningen, the Netherlands and currently lives and works in Amsterdam. He gained fame with his breathtaking Nimbus series in which he mastered the art of capturing clouds inside buildings. Yes, you read it correctly: he recreates the physical elements of a cloud indoors. He is interested in the temporary nature of construction and deconstruction and his works often centers the attention on duality.
In the 2,5-minutes documentary of Avant/Garde Diaries Berndnaut Smilde explains the following:
I’m really interested in work that kind of exists in between reality and representation in a way that it doesn’t really function in the end. So as for the clouds, they’re just there. They’re building up and at the same time they’re falling apart. So afterwards there’s really this document of something that happened on a specific location that’s what counts, the idea of a cloud inside a space and the meanings people project on it.
In 2013 Berndnaut Smilde made the series ICONOCLOUDS commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar US (September issue) and let ‘his clouds’ pose together with today’s fashion icons Karl Lagerfeld, Donatella Versace, Alber Elbaz and Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana.