Enter a paint-splattered orgy of rich photography

Robert G Bartholot takes you on a surreal trip into his world of photographic illustration.

Berlin-based visual artist Bartholot - aka Robert Bartholot - first came to our attention around Christmas last year with Crème de la Crème, a glorious Jackson Pollock-inspired assault on the visual senses.

After being further immersed in his surreal world of photographic illustration at OFFF Barcelona 2014, we decided it was time to find out more about the man behind the bold, iconic imagery that's catching the eye of clients ranging from Diesel to UNICEF…

You describe your work as 'sculptural still-life'. What are your influences?

My influences come from traditional costumes and carnival, as well as the entire history of art.

How did Crème de la Crème come about?

We had some material left over from a former project we did for UNICEF Switzerland, so in a way the project was meant to make art from leftovers. The initial idea was to apply a Jackson-Pollockish action-painting on a human being instead of a canvas.

Bartholet Creme de la Creme

Bartholet Creme de la Creme

What aesthetic were you aiming for?

The first image [above] very much reminds me of melting ice cream with a chocolate sauce topping. The second [below] almost appears to be an oil-on-canvas-orgy with an Oskar Kokoschka feel to it.

The making of the piece was quite random. We just started pouring and splashing finger paint all over Harm - that's the guy underneath the paint. When there was no more paint left, we started to sprinkle colour pigments on top.

Bartholet Creme de la Creme 2

Bartholet Creme de la Creme 2

What was the most challenging aspect?

For me? To keep the camera free of paint and dust, and to shoot as quick and as much as possible in the meanwhile. For Harm - to not fear suffocation.

What's your favourite part of the project?

When Harm totally let go and dug himself completely into the paint and pigments. The best part was actually when he opened his mouth and swallowed the paint.

How much of a final piece of work do you achieve in camera?

To me, photography is always illustration. I use this term to somehow include the scenography/design part that is always present in my work.

Photography is the base. Post-production differs a lot from project to project: sometimes there is a lot, including CGI elements or digital collage; sometimes there is only a minimum of colour correction. I work with Capture One and Adobe Photoshop.

What's the concept behind your piece for Bauer Ohne Feld for Vorn magazine?

The guys from Vorn Magazine asked me to illustrate a 'farmer without field' ('Bauer ohne Feld') for their latest issue. The idea was to shoot the farmer in a rigid pose as if he had been cut out of a rural landscape painting and placed inside a house. The pink and orange light creates a disco-like ambient to enhance the contrast.

Bauer Ohne Feld for Vorn

Bauer Ohne Feld for Vorn

Did you face any hurdles during the project?

The most challenging part was definitely the two-coloured lighting, especially on the clothes.

What's the concept behind your La Mort en Rose project for Poool magazine?

The concept for La Mort En Rose was to create something very ambivalent: beautiful and disgusting at the same time.

Therefore, skin-tone mortadella, liverwurst, ham and salami seemed to be the perfect materials to put on a good-looking and tough model. To make it even more disturbing, the model was buried in soil in some images.

Bartholot La Mort en Rose

Bartholot La Mort en Rose

Are there any new directions in which you'd like to take your practice?

At the moment I'm experimenting with video, especially stop-motion with a professional dancer.

Finally, tell us something we don't know...

Most of my work is shot in my living room.

Bartholot 4 of spades

Four of Spades is the colourful result of a collaboration between Bartholot and Serial Cut

Bartholot Twisted

Twisted is a recent personal piece, created with Ines and Chipironet

 Bartholot Mort

Another image from Bartholot's Mort series for Poool magazine

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julia Sagar is a commissioning editor and writer for Creative Bloq, Computer Arts, net, 3D World and IFX magazines. Tweet her @JuliaSagar