La Brise d'Ostende

If Valérie Naessens’ camera had been a net, she would have fished melancholy out of the sea waves with it. In her photo series Brise d’Ostende, the photographer takes you through the loose dune sand, over abandoned dikes, along the flood line and back. In nine images, she creates a walk that meanders and undulates like the swell of the sea. 

Not with oil on canvas, but with a lens, Naessens captures more than just blue. The feeling shimmering through the pictures locks in some and liberates others, frightens some and protects  others. And always a source of light can be discerned, breaking the darkness like a lighthouse and connecting land and sea. Sometimes your gaze and the light find each other immediately, sometimes it takes some searching, as it does in life.

Valérie knows what darkness is and, after a period of depression, she finds the light back in life and work. Whereas in earlier creations she resolutely chose dark, she now leans towards colour. There is room for light and nuance, albeit tempered. Melancholy continues to shine through in the shadow-shrouded columns of the Thermae Palace or the National Monument to the Seamen that hides under a layer of fog and merges with the landscape. The exact moment when the pictures were taken adds to that atmosphere: just before the evening has tumbled all the way down, when the world turns black and the sky desperately wants to stay blue. During l’heure bleue, with slumbering clouds as her companion and Belgian painter Léon Spilliaert as a model, she captured the series.

Spilliaert – who, like Naessens, hails from Ostend – used his nocturnal wanderings across the dyke in his oeuvre. Both painter and photographer seek seclusion to translate an inner world onto canvas. During a holiday in northern France, even before the suitcases were unpacked, the sea called the photographer to her. Again and again she returned – through the loose dune sand, over abandoned dykes, along the tide line – to shoot new images. It was only when she returned home that she realized the similarities with Spilliaert’s work and decided to stay on the same route.  

For instance, the name Brise d’Ostende refers to a perfume that Spilliaert’s father created and sold in the seaside town. The size of the pictures was calculated according to the format the artist used most often.  

The images are upright, in the same position as a night owl wandering the dyke while the rest of the world sleeps. A surprising choice, as most coastal images are captured horizontally, to contain the vastness of the horizon. By rendering the impressions vertically, she throws off ballast and zooms in on the haunting, melancholic feeling around which the series is built. And when you put all the images side by side, the lines of one photo flow into the other and take you along on the walk Valérie Naessens has mapped out; sometimes against the wind, sometimes with the Ostend breeze pushing her on.

Framed prints from the ‘La Brise d’Ostende’ series
Price 290.00 euro/each or 2 300.00 euro/serie
Edition 1/3 + 1 AP 
Format 24 x 30 cm
Year of creation 2023
Handwritten haiku, hand-signed and numbered by artist on verso 

Further specifications
Paper Photo Rag – 308 gr – 100% cotton Hahnemühle, mounted on acid-free cardboard
Frame brown-red wooden frame 
Glass 70% UV resistant, anti-reflective 

Legal notice
Once the last print run is sold, this picture will no longer be available
All images and rights reserved and property of Valérie Naessens
Price exempted  from VAT, excluding shipping costs