Henryk Hetflaisz, photographer: 'Portraiture is about engaging in a one-on-one conversation'

 

Visiting photographer Henryk Hetflaisz in Capel Manor, the estate near Sissinghurst in Kent where he lives and works with Remy Blumenfeld, his long-term partner, is an idyllic experience. Many of his photographs are taken in the beautiful grounds that transform themselves into his outdoor studio complete with extensive views and lush foliage.

Remy Blumenfeld is the grandson of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld and the son of sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld and has encouraged Hetflaisz to explore both portraiture and pure forms of photography. I mention this heritage, as it is impossible to separate their world from the work. Hetflaisz was recently commissioned by the commune of Pietrasanta, Italy (where Helaine Blumenfeld has a studio) to do a series of the "artisans" in its artists' studios.

Homo Faber (Working Man) was shown first in the Piazza del Duomo, Pietrasanta, and will soon be displayed in New York. The exhibition will form a fascinating insight into how the enablers in marble studios and foundries work.

There is no doubt when looking at these works that the people are engrossed in what they are doing, and that Hetflaisz, as the photographer, has enabled them to relax into the moment. "Portraiture is about engaging in a one-on-one conversation. It happens naturally and gradually but at some point I know and the person knows that it's fine to take the picture. We're just both ready."

Kent is a long way from Slawno, the small town in northern Poland where Hetflaisz was born in 1978. Growing up in a country where people could not talk freely was formative to the direction to which he was to take as an artist. "Faces were my preoccupation from early on – because people didn't talk to me, I had to learn to read people's thoughts. I had to learn to really be attentive, pay attention to what's going on in their faces because I couldn't trust their words."

Recently, Hetflaisz engaged dancer Sarah Cattrall and, working at night in the garden, experimented in capturing movement using "traditional methodology" with no digital trickery to create a series of seemingly abstract photographs of beauty and mystery.

He does not distance himself from his more traditional work, "the project with the artists in their studios was a huge learning curve. I can't underestimate it. I learned so much in an artistic sense, not as a photographer."

He credits his sources as "Japanese dance photographers, but it really comes from [Eadweard] Muybridge, it comes from the very beginning of trying to capture movement, and I think many photographers grapple with movement."

Ultimately, these abstractions are removed from the model, more so than in Muybridge's serial works. As Hetflaisz says, "My tool is light. I realised that to go under the skin of things I had to animate light. The dance had to be made of light, not reflected light. It had to be life's source, because ultimately we are all light transformed."

Henryk Hetflaisz's Homo Faber will be showing at the Italian Cultural Institute, New York (www.iicnewyork.esteri.it) in the autumn

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future