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Originally from Belgium, Antoine Rose’s worldwide journey began with a faint curiosity and a myriad of photography paraphernalia hidden in his father’s garage. “An old photo-enlarger, some expired chemicals, and three textbooks nearly 30cm each on the Theory of Photography” enkindled Rose’s spirit of inquiry and raw experimentation. Preferring to be autodidact, Rose refrained from taking any professional courses in the field; rather, he studied his father’s books, expanding his knowledge on the subject meanwhile carefully watching his father practice and develop film throughout the analogue era. By the age of eight, after receiving a pocket-sized compact, Rose began sculpting the light behind his lens – a small token that sparked his imagination and initiated years of dedication to improving his technique.
Antoine Rose’s love for the sea led him to become official photographer of the Kitesurfing World Cup in 2002 for several consecutive years. During this time, Rose set out to bring forth a fresh, innovative vantage point for magazines that inspired his now, critically acclaimed aerial photography. Being a perfectionist, Rose devoted time and energy to refining his vision with a shooting process that evolved gradually over a period of twelve years, in which iterative improvements to the entire process and its smaller elements were made after each flight. As Rose developed his oeuvre and creative method, he began to take a minimalist approach with the commencement of his “Up in the Air” series. Shedding light on his venturesome operation, Rose admits, “Shooting from helicopters, all doors removed, 300 feet above earth at 20 knots and getting images that can be printed as large as 120 inches is quite a challenge. What’s difficult is to mix all the tasks in real time: guiding the pilot, having the right lens, being sure the camera settings are setup properly, concentrating on the light, the subject, the framing, discussing with the tower control to get clearance…” the list goes on. Indeed, his works are oversized photographs, up to 3 meters wide and mounted with a patented Diasec procedure, offering landscape panoramas captured from a bird’s eye view.
Gaining extensive recognition as a published artist, with major international brands (M.A.D museum in NY, Silvercup Studios, Hermes) collecting his work, Rose continued to travel around the globe from South Africa to Istanbul, converting ordinary scenes into magnificent pieces of art – whether they be the shorelines of Miami and Hampton Beach “Up in the Air” or the mountaintops of Switzerland “Jeux D’Hiver”. In Rose’s most recent collection “Dawn to Dusk,” illuminated cityscapes of the Manhattan skyline are captured beneath darkness. Thus oblige viewers to a closer look, distinguishing the artist’s pictorial subject from its aerial veneer; brilliant skyscrapers manifest embellished microchips against an unlit backdrop. These miniature-like representations transform the natural, aerial landscapes into abstract paintings, thereby inscribing Rose’s work as minimalist artistry. The artist continues to introduce a tension between the real and virtual throughout all his collections, a contradiction that highlights an illusive quality experienced by the audience at first glance.
In addition to his aesthetic, Rose instills an anthropological and sociological dimension to his photographs, whereby masses sharing common behaviors expose themselves as hedonistic herds. The stills of people living and working beneath jewel tone structures or skiing atop Swiss Alps in straight line form suggest a showcase, or given the distance, a “Bee Hives.” From a philosophical perspective, Rose’s bird’s eye view attests insignificance to his subject matter as they nearly disappear in the infinite space of the universe, crushed by the immensity of vast nothingness or a blank canvas of snow – depending on the series. This exclusive bird’s eye frame of reference imposes only two fields on rose’s compositions: electricity and dark space in one series, and the skiers and mounds of blinding snow in the other – both excluding a third, the sky. The contrast between these two registers (horizontally or vertically arranged) disturbs the viewer’s frontal perception, as horizontal surfaces seen from above translate into vertical planes. It is only through a mental process our viewer translates these irregular, geometric patterns into the artist’s original and regular register. In this way, the artist relies on the public’s active participation and receptivity. As a process artist, Antoine Rose envisions his audience empathizing a similar sentiment and experiencing the same consciousness he encounters while shooting. Rose confesses, “To be strapped outside a helicopter is not for the faint of heart. The man always tried to fly since the early age and having the possibility to fly like a bird above the sea and shoreline is something [of] magic.”