Andreas Kohli spoke with Katharina Lütscher
Katharina, for a number of years now you’ve been photographing food and people in a special way. At first glance your photographs recall Dutch oil paintings from the seventeenth century.
Yes, even as a child, I loved these old paintings. When I was a teenager, I spent a year as an exchange student in the town of Haarlem in Holland, where I studied the paintings of Dutch painter Frans Hals. That experience probably influenced me.
Are your images photographic copies of the Old Masters?
I really like the mood of these old paintings, their dark spaces and dim light. The dark pictorial space and weak light express an incredible tranquillity to the viewer. I also sense this tranquillity when I work in my studio. It’s really beautiful. I don’t do traditional vanitas paintings that focus on transience. I show the individual beauty and richness of life.
The light falls beautifully upon the objects in your paintings. How do you achieve this effect?
I start with the situation in the seventeenth century: the dark rooms with small windows that let in only very little light. I reproduce this situation in my darkened studio and work with a flash with a very narrow field of light. The light and the depth of field are extremely important to ensure that the surfaces have the desired effect.
What go you interested in still lifes?
I enjoy good food and own a lot of cookbooks. In many cookbooks you can hardly see the food in the photographs. All that you see are small tidbits against a white background. For me food is all about sensuality, colours and smells. The photographs in the cookbooks have the opposite effect – they resemble cold medical illustrations. My photography project arose from a counter-impulse: the desire to show fruits and vegetables in their natural beauty.