Pascal Liénard (born 1979) is a freelance graphic designer and photographer from Belgium. His photography is minimalistic, atmospheric and deeply soothing with a focus on simple natural elements. There’s a heartfelt calm and stillness spread over his images that are mostly landscapes and man-made objects quietly standing amidst nature. Looking at his photostream is a very alleviating experience. These mellow images let you absorb themselves tenderly and in time. Taken mostly by digital or film medium-format cameras, Pascal’s images are perfect example of profound photography. Here’s our Q&A with this brilliant visual artist:
I live in Belgium, I work as a graphic designer, freelancer, from 10 years+ now. I studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Tournai, Belgium, where I received a master degree in Numeric Arts, graphic design and multimedia. Photography, among other things, was part of my eduction, including self processing and self printing in the darkroom. It was not my first encounter with this experience since I’d already spent some time in the darkroom with my father. He loved photography and I was fascinated by the process and the cameras.
Photography followed me, although finding some spare time for it as a full-time freelancer was not easy. For the last years, and with some discipline, I managed to find some time to pursue it seriously, and I plan to free up additional time. I am quite selective and I don’t shoot nor share a lot of pictures, I consider myself to be a perfectionist when it comes to my work as a graphic designer and I try to share the same approach for my personal work.
I have some leitmotivs- I find myself interested and attracted by recurrent things. I tend to look for a sense of suspended time and silence. I try to build my pictures like a graphic layout, looking for small details, shapes, flat areas of color, patina, signs and a sense of depth in the air, quiet, stillness, emptiness. I like to play with the rural context, the interaction with expected or inappropriate architectural features in the landscape, the space between religious and the profane.
I search for spots and take some notes. Then I come back at different times trying to get the adequate light. I am not looking for beautiful light, but for light that looks evident, discrete, dying, gentle. Of course, I also give great importance to composition, framing, layout, etc. I like a 2D flat feeling, frontal, simple.
I work as well with film or digital, 35mm or medium format cameras, SLR, or rangefinder. I like the 50mm angle of view or the 100mm on the medium format. On digital, I work with the classic tools as Capture One, Lightroom, Photoshop. I keep editing as low as possible: color correction, level, framing, removing dust, that’s almost all.
I love the quality of film, strengths and weaknesses, and that particular way of capturing the light. I love the whole process, the temporal progression, it’s all about patience and slowness, and it’s sometimes quite liberating from a digital life. I love the fact that film is an object, I mean the image is a physical object. The biggest challenge for me was and still is that of scanning color negatives. It is really time-consuming and frustrating exercise.
I like when an image is between abstraction and figuration, I think the absence of human beings helps that perception. It is more about distance, sobriety, disconnecting from a context that would be too obvious. I like when an image let people follow slowly their intuition and feelings.
What other themes and projects would you like to cover in future?
I have a lot of ideas and projects, I am interested by a lot of things, lately I focus on images influenced by classical paintings.
Photography might be the more accessible medium, with smartphones and all the point and shoot cameras, everyone can take photographs. Originality, influence and coincidence in photography, as well as with other mediums, is inherent part of the creative practice. But originality might exist in every images because of everyone’s different background.
I try to find inspiration in other creative fields, like painting, literature or graphic design. There is nothing entirely new, but my personal background, influences, my work as a graphic designer, my experience, the place where I live, even the cameras I shoot with and the way I process my images are all part of my personal style.
I have a strong love for the work of Trine Søndergaard, Josef Hoflehner, Jon Tonks, Markus Henttonen, Peter Bialobrzeski, Alexander Gronsky, Stephen Shore, Jan Kempenaers, Antoine Bruy, Alexander Murphy, Alastair Philip Wiper, Joel Meyerowitz, Jem Southam..just to name a few in a random order.