Poul Lange’s Existential Botanicals
Poul Lange is a designer and photographic illustrator who has been making collages for some time. His latest involve a series of vintage photos combined with flowers. Collage is not new and flowers have been around since forever, but somehow Lange makes them look fresh in this work. I asked him how.
Blue Eyed Boy
What spawned this idea with so much flora? I have always been very fond of botanicals. My grandmother used to collect and press flowers, so the smells and textures of this project brought me right back to those happy times. But what really got me started was when we moved to our current home, right across the street from the Los Angeles Flower Market. I love walking around this huge place looking for beautiful leaves and flowers I can kill and mutilate to use in my collages.
There seems to be a sense of serendipitous play rather than focused existential thinking here. How would you describe the meaning behind the images? Well, it struck me that both the dried flowers and the people in the photos are long dead, and both of them convey a beauty that is tinged with a profound sadness. But when you combine the two, they not only spring back to life, they also project a lightness they did not attain before. Studying the people in the old portraits, you see a seriousness that I cannot believe represents the full personality of these characters. I like to think that my collages bring out the humor and silliness that must hide somewhere behind the stiff poses in the photographs. That is a teeny bit existential, isn’t it?
These are also darkly hilarious. Do you laugh out loud when you’re doing them? During the process the photos and the flowers hang out on the same table, and I play around with different combinations. When I find the right match it is quite obvious and yes, it does make me laugh out loud sometimes. It unsettles my cat.
Where are they destined to appear? The pieces you see here were created for a group show, Keep It Together, at Flower Pepper Gallery in Old Pasadena (121 E. Union St., Pasadena, CA 91103), curated by Mark Todd; the opening is Saturday, March 26, 6:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
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About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →