Pilot turned photographer
Text by Sharifa Al-Badi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (2016)
Published in The Culture Trip Qatar, Doha, Qatar (2016)
Quentin De Wispelaere is taking the photography world by storm. De Wispelaere has become one of the most important photographers of his generation, having completing three major photographic series: "Raw Coverage", "Mirage Study", and, more lately, "Three monkeys… well, maybe four".
Quentin De Wispelaere knew from a young age that he wanted to be involved with image making but hesitated and decided to become a pilot instead. He completed his flight training and got his license, but there was something missing: he was not excited. He realized that nothing else gave him the thrill that he got when he experimented with photography. De Wispelaere describes his work as exploring the boundaries of representation and hallucination.
He put his pilot license on hold and studied photography at La Cambre School of Visual Arts in Belgium. After a few months of studying, he received his first photographic assignment, and it just kept him going. He says: ‘Even though photography and flying might seem very different in the first place, the more I work in photography the more I can see these two interests from one perspective.’ Indeed, both fields deal with experiencing the world in an unconventional way, through advanced technological tools.
"Mirage Study" focuses on the state of Qatar. De Wispelaere fell in love with the country for its unique development over time. He was blown away by how a fairly small plot of land in the middle of a scorching desert had become one of the most developed states in the world, with its modernized, extreme architecture. De Wispelaere describes the series as experiencing things that appear real and things that are much less concrete, such as mirages and hallucinations, but also UFOs and incredible man-made constructions.
De Wispelaere has also worked in nature and went to jungles in Guatemala and Belize to work on a photographic series on isolation-related hallucinations. He was inspired by Ken Wilson’s story; Wilson was a tourist who got lost in the jungle for 19 days without any tools of survival. Wilson was reported to have dealt with extreme physical and mental situations, something that sparked De Wispelaere’s interest — he wanted to experience the jungle ambiance first hand, the concept of a ‘distorted’ perception of the outside world due to factors such as heat, fear, exhaustion, and hunger. For this project, he used specific cameras to document the experience, paying attention to detail in terms of temperature and light.
De Wispelaere became who he is today by getting out of his comfort zone and pursuing something completely different than what he first intended to do. Going from airline pilot to photographer proved that it is never too late to pursue a completely different career. He says that even though many of his interests do not necessarily connect with each other, they still work hand-in-hand with the development of his work and character. He states that if you intend to pursue art in any form, you should not be weighed down; do not get stuck in your emotions, body, or your head.
Some of his inspirations and muses include painter Christian Rosa, James Turrell, Mohamed Bourouissa, Wolfgang Tillmans and Anish Kapoor. He also draws inspiration from the world around him, from certain energies that people have, from films, books, and installations. He is attracted to people whom he feels are 100 % genuine and authentic, who have a lust for life and live life to the fullest and who are somewhat crazy.
You will be seeing and hearing more from this budding artist in the near future. Already De Wispelaere has representation in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. His main goal is to continue to work on both commercial and personal projects without having to prioritize one or the other.