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At home with Scheltens & Abbenes


Photography by Scheltens & Abbens

Text by Louise Schouwenberg

The photographs of Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes are at once reproductions of strikingly familiar scenes and abstract paintings made up of colour and line. They tempt the spectator to look at the world with different eyes; to go beyond what he already knows and piece together a personal narrative. Whether it's the pencil on our desk, the lamp in the corner, the curtain in front of the window, or the chair waiting patiently for someone to sit, things reveal something about our lives.


The power of Scheltens and Abbenes’ photographs hides in their ability to visually reveal the multi-layered meanings of things. They transport the viewer into their way of looking at the world and employ a great variety of strategies, such as framing scenes in surprising ways, creating unfamiliar arrangements, and zooming in on details which usually escape from a viewer’s attention.


You received a commission to photograph a range of iconic lamps produced by Flos, an Italian company that started in 1962 with the aim of reinventing the very notion of artificial lighting. Did you investigate the company’s history before you started the work?

S&A: Naturally we know Flos and have great respect for the timeless lamps they produce. We could not work with a brand if its products would not harmonise with our sense of quality and aesthetics. But it’s not like we investigated the history of Flos and then tried to create a matching image. We start by looking intensely at the objects, trying to discover the secrets that hide in their shapes and colours. For every photoshoot we start from scratch and create endless variations. Experimentation is at the core of our usual way of working. You might say that our way of working aligns with the ambition of Flos—to reinvent the notion of lighting, time and again.