Student life

The Jester Art Expo – November with Jacob Kaptein

The Jester Art Expo strikes again! A new initiative to make campus more fun and promote local artists.

With a monthly art exposition in our book-sharing spot in Aurora, the second invited artist was the incredibly talented Jacob Kaptein (@jacobkaptein) a local photographer artist, inhabitant of Ppauw. His beautiful pieces were exposed until the end of November, and last week he came to the second “Lunch with the artist”, to tell us about him and his collection “Heaven’s Flowers” and have a chat with some of you. Here is what we learned:

Jacob, tell us a bit about yourself, how did you start with photography?

I got into photography when I was 15, doing wildlife photography. I’d go to the forest with a friend, and we would spend hours and hours until we could capture some animals in the wild. Then I started doing some photo journals like National Geographic. After a while I decided to start exploring and documenting the world by myself. In 2018 I hitchhiked from Wageningen until India, a route of 30.000km.! You can check out the pictures on my website.

You have always photographed nature, why is that?

Because nature is the only thing that exists. So, if there is something to love, it’s nature. Though most of the times my mind is occupied by things created in my head: the human nature. In this space I can quickly get caught in thoughts. Regularly, I want to escape this and travel outside my mind in the beautiful world of colors and shapes. With photography, I play with these colors and shapes and try to share this joy with others.

You are presenting us your collection “Heaven’s Flowers”, tell us more!

“Heaven’s flowers” is a collection of photographs of nature taken with a radial symmetric technique that makes them look like flowers. Flowers are a symbol of beauty, they are everywhere, and we pick the ones which are attracting us, and it can enrich us, just like art in our daily lifes.

The mandalas are very meditative and touching, it reaches the world’s center but also our own. We should put mandalas in our everyday life, like we put flowers on our table: to remind ourselves to travel inwards. Every mandala has its different depths of colors and shapes and their parallel feelings. And in this way every mandala can have a different meaning to us, fitting to each time and space.  

How did you come up with this idea?

The idea comes from the concept of mandalas, which have been represented in all cultures and ages. However, often this art is clearly made by humans, sometimes, for me, too much human made. I enjoy the photographic part of this technique because the camera shows the very dynamic and chaotic, but at the same time relaxing, shapes of nature.

Moreover, the photos are made by hand and therefore the result is never perfectly symmetrical: the small differences in overlap between the subsequent exposures are always intriguing me.

One day, I visited one of my favorite trees in Wageningen forest and started wondering how it would look like to take a multiple exposure photograph of the tree from all her sides. The result was awful but led to the idea to instead turn the camera around its own axis.

Can you reveal us the technique?

Normally I try to find a spot where there’s a lot of contrast, for example an exposed rock in front of a dark background. It helps to go out on a sunny day. Then I take 8 pictures while rotating the camera around its own axis. Sometimes, I also do 9 pictures.

In some of them, I only came closer to my subject, and I don’t turn the camera. I play and see what comes out, that keeps the fun alive. And the nicest thing of this technique is: the result is always a surprise. I try to predict a certain situation, but it’s always quite different than I imagined.

So, these are your interpretation of a mandala?

The mandala is like a flower wanting to attract your attention. It screams: ‘look at me. Go towards my center.’ So helped by this art we can surrender and get lost in each micro cosmos: showing that the mandala represents something too big and all-encompassing to be presented. Paradoxically, therefore a mandala can be as simple and basic as a suggestive circle.

It’s never ending, infinite.

When you are with your nose on the picture, many details can be seen, seemingly chaotically distributed. There are so many shapes that we can’t distinguish anymore what the shape represents. I like to search and get lost in imagination of what the picture shows. But afterwards I feel the need to find myself back, to search for harmony.

To see this, we need to zoom out, take a step to the back. That also I feel in my life. Sometimes I jump into something, emotionally and physically, but so now and then I take a step backwards to see the whole picture and find my balance.

When I work on the photographic mandalas, I realized it is a nice way of interpreting my mandala.

It expresses that even though there are so many shapes and colors, it is the expression of one thing: nature.

Do you explore other forms of art apart from photography?

The art of living is taking most of my time. I enjoy any kind of art, like the art of movement when I play soccer, or the art of building my house. Related to ‘Heaven’s flowers’ I am now working on making a movie of this collection, I feel like the repetitive radial forms of the collection make each individual photograph stronger.

So, I’m making a infinite zoom movement through an imaginary galaxy in which we travel from the center of one picture to the center of the next one.

How do you balance your professional life and your artistry?

I try to not let my artistry become too professionally, because it takes the spirit away from my work or takes the joy away from simply making art for the art.

At the same time if I want to showcase my work, I need to bring my art professionally into the world. Which is also important for me, because what isn’t know isn’t being loved, and it can encourage me a lot to know that people appreciate my work.

So I try to find a balance between those two extremes.

Ok, so how can The Jester readers become your clients?

They can visit my website or contact me through Instagram @jacobkaptein. I have small prints in frames, and some pieces printed in large format. Hit me up!

Finally, what is next? Tell us about your future projects, nature, art?

I’m planning a trip to Africa soon. I would like to go further with the “Heavens Flowers” theme, but I don’t want to be repetitive, I want to make something new.

I hope to find inspiration on the way!


If you, or anyone you know, would like their art to be exhibited in Aurora by The Jester, get in touch and we’ll get back to you! We welcome all artists, and would love to hear from you.