photo basel ALPA Award 2019


We are delighted to announce the winner of this year’s ALPA Award for an outstanding artist at photo basel 2019, sponsored by the Swiss camera manufacturer ALPA®. We would like to thank ALPA as well as the award-endowing anonymous private collector for their support in general and their commitment to honor exceptional photographic positions in particular.

Casper Faassen (*1975/NL) is the recipient of the ALPA Award 2019.

The historically rooted, technically impressive and aesthetically seductive works by the Dutch artist Casper Faassen convinced the small jury and purchasing private collector. The skillful play of the artist, who started out as a painter, with the layered nature of photography--from the immaterial to the material to the semantic--manifests Faassen’s intense engagement with the medium, the act of seeing, and the constructiveness of images. And yet Casper Faassen's works are far from being dry academic exercises, but rather are wonderfully sensitive photographs that touch the viewer emotionally. We are pleased to award Casper Faassen for his work and would like to congratulate him on this achievement.

Galerist Roy Kahmann, Daniel Blochwitz and André Oldani (ALPA)

Galerist Roy Kahmann, Daniel Blochwitz and André Oldani (ALPA)


photo basel in conversation with Casper Faassen, ALPA award winner 2019

What was your first experience with photography?

My very first experience was the polaroid camera that my parents owned. I got to take some pictures. But the moment I started exploring the medium to make something other than a snapshot, was when I photographed my models as ‘sketches’ for my paintings. I started to experiment with composition and light. Some years later those sketches evolved into something more and I started printing. I gradually let go of painting. 

Do you remember the first artwork you ever sold?

My dad had an office at the primary school he worked. He would put my paintings of tennis and basketball players up the wall. That’s where people first bought my work and also commissioned specific sports. I must have been 12. 

Has your practice changed over time?

Absolutely. Initially drawing and painting were hobby. I was 26 when I quit my day job and started living of the works I sold. Photography became part of my work some 10 years ago. I got a bigger studio, better equipment, management, galleries etc. Things have grown into a more professional direction. Sometimes I lose track and have to force myself back to just having fun with the camera or pencils and not having to make a sound exhibition.  

What's the last exhibition that you saw and impressed you?

I loved Modigliani in Tate. Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy some years back and more recently Morandi at Belvedere in Heerenveen. All painters, I know. I love photography but group exhibitions or art fairs I like better when it comes to that. More diverse.

What's your favourite place to see art?

I often go to the RIJKS Museum. Rembrandt, De Nachtwacht, still does it for me. But when I am abroad, the first thing I do is make a list of museums I want to visit. This summer when I was in Scandinavia with my family, I discovered Hammershoi in Copenhagen. Beautiful work. I felt a little guilty I never heard of him before.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

No surprise I look at painting. But more and more I collect objects, glass, sculpture that I use for still lifes. Also nature, dance, pretty diverse. 

Has a specific movement inspired your work? Which other photographer has / has had an impact on your work and why?

It’s getting boring but Morandi, Modigliani, Matthijs Maris, Gerhard Richter are painters that definitely had an influence on me. 

If you could meet any artist, dead or alive, who would that be and what would you talk

Rembrandt. There are so many questions surrounding Rembrandt. I’m very curious what he was like. When I saw the movie Turner, I was really surprised, such delicate, romantic work by such a pig. Funny contradiction. 

The best advice you have been given?

Relax, slow down, things will come. I still don’t act on it consistently because I can be a little restless, ambitious at times. I have to trust myself, my work and pace. The quality of the work and how it is appreciated, will eventually be in sync.  

Your most indispensable item in your studio?

I would say camera and my mediums I shoot through.

Do you have an active role in developing your photos? Do you prefer working with the same fine art printer?

Yes I work at a studio where they have a large flatbed UV printer and a friend of mine operates it. We get to use it at night so we can experiment as much as we want. That is very valuable to me. 

What would you change in the art world?

There is a tendency of the emperor's new clothes. We find it difficult to have our own opinion. In the top fairs, with the top galleries nothing much changes and that is probably money driven. Collections are made up of the same artists so they become big production businesses. I hope to stay away from that and still be eligible for let’s say museum shows and good critics. 

What project are you currently working on?

I just made an exhibition around Rembrandt as a collector. Still lifes of the things that were in his Kunstcaemer. From there I found out that by photographing these objects I was also collecting them. So now I’m looking what direction I can take that idea. 

What is your dream project?

I work with dancers of NDT and the Dutch National Ballet. I would love to build a huge cube in which they appear and disappear. Orpheus’ myth caught. Around that installation I would love to present works, stills, of dancers that I work with in a large series as if they were cariatides. 

What does winning the photo basel ALPA Award mean to you?

I was very honored. I guess it means I am on the right track. So many great photographers are presented on Photo Basel and to stand out was somewhat hard to believe. I want to thank the jury and hope to see you in 2020 where I will show more of what we just discussed.

The photo basel ALPA award 2018 was featured in the Financial Times - read the article here

photo basel in conversation with Yoko Ikeda, ALPA award winner 2018

Yoko Ikeda, The ALPA AWARD winner 2018, was announced at photo basel 2018 and one work was purchased from the gallery representing the artist by the private collector. In addition, ALPA® presented a cash prize or a ALPA® camera system to the winning photographer.

What project are you currently working on?

I don’t make my work in the form of different series. I work with the desire to create a new world on photographic paper while being conscious of the ambiguity of visual sensation and the camera’s functions, and being attentive to composition, the shape of things, and the combination of colors. I would say I have been making a sequence of works in a single theme (=project). On a practical level, I will hold a solo exhibition at a gallery in Japan next spring and I am working on publishing a small photo book in the US.

What's the last show that you saw and impressed you?

It’s the exhibition of Pierre Bonnard that is currently held at The National Art Center, Tokyo. Actually I am a big fan of Bonnard and I am fascinated by his unique composition and delicate color usage. I really enjoy the feeling of lost dimension in his work. In Japan we haven’t had an opportunity to see large number of Bonnard’s works all at once, so it is a precious opportunity to know the whole body of his work. I want to revisit the exhibition twice at least.

What's your favourite place to see art?

I like seeing art taking my time at museums. It is really exciting to encounter fabulous art works accidentally while travelling. I also appreciate the buildings of museums. It is a happy moment to see art works in beautiful circumstances, and art works resonating with the exhibition space. In Japan, I like to visit Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, and overseas Dia:Beacon (NY, USA), The Menil Collection (Houston, TX, USA), Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherland). Unfortunately it is difficult to visit museums overseas many times, though. I recently visited Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris and I enjoyed the exquisite combination of old things and contemporary art in this small museum.

What's the most indispensable item in your studio?

First of all, my camera and color negative films. The enlarger and the enlarging lenses, and the processor are necessary items since I do printing by myself up to 20x24inch size.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I think I can get inspirations from everything I see in everyday life. Appearance of shape, color of things changes by light and angle. Even if I don’t have a camera with me, I always try to be conscious of it. I believe the accumulation of that consciousness will help me when I shoot. Appreciating art at museums also gives me ideas for installation. And reading books related artists inspires me a lot.

Which other photographer has / has had an impact on you and why?

Toshio Shibata. He is a mentor to me. I have been studying the attitude as an artist and practical things (such as the way of handling prints, etc.) from him. He studied oil painting and printmaking at a university of arts and knows other artistic mediums. He has created photographic works of art since the times photography was not particularly recognized as art. So I suppose he has been strongly conscious of how he should engage in his own work.

What's the first artwork you ever sold?

A small B&W print picturing trees. I used to do B&W before.

Do you have an active role in developing your photos? Do you prefer working with the same fine art printer?

I do print by myself up to 20x24inch size, but I order lager size prints at a laboratory in Tokyo. The printer understands a delicate nuance of color and my preference. I am grateful for that.

What's the last great book you have read?

‘Cézanne’ by Joachim Gasquet. The author is a poet and his poetic phrasing was very difficult for me. But Gasquet heard the stories directly from Cézanne and it is important to know the words of the artist himself. I was able to understand how he engaged himself in his work and how he established new and unique expressions, and the story encouraged me very much.

What does winning the first photo basel ALPA Award mean to you?

I received my first award, The 32nd Higashikawa New Photographer Award, in 2016. This award allowed me to feel that I was recognized as a photographer in Japan.

It was also a delightful surprise that I received The 1st ALPA AWARD this year. At the sudden news of the award a mysterious feeling that fortuitous power was acting caught me. I have been greatly encouraged by knowing that there are people who appreciate my work abroad where few people know about my work.  Being the first recipient of the award is very special and a great honor. And I also feel a responsibility to continue creating good works for the award in future.

Which movement has influenced your body of work the most?

I learned about Abstract Expressionism in my school days and I came to like Pollock, Rothko, etc. Then, I became interested in Impressionism and Post Impressionism that are the origins of Abstract Expressionism. Currently I am inspired by the artists of the Nabis School from the point of view of Flatness.

What international art destination do you most want to visit? (museum/institution or even place)

There are many museums in the world I’ve never been to and I would like to visit. I really want to revisit The Menil Collection in Houston if I have an opportunity, as I didn’t have enough time to see it leisurely.

Who's your favourite artist (photographer and/or non-photographer)?

James Turrell, Richard Serra and Peter Fischli & David Weiss


about the artist

Throughout her career, photographer Yoko Ikeda has been finding poetry in the prosaic, and mystery in the mundane. Her photographs serve to form an imaginary world, loosely based on commonplace subjects. Working mostly in Japan, but also in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States and, she has created images both ominous and inviting, uncanny in their ability to coax the unexpected from the known.

Yoko Ikeda was born in Kanazawa City (Japan), and studied at the Research Department of the Tokyo College of Photography. She now lives and works in Tokyo.

Yoko Ikeda’s work was exhibited by Ibasho Gallery at photo basel 2018 where she won the first ever ALPA award.




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