CENTURIES, YES EVEN MILLENNIA AGO, PEOPLE THOUGHT THINGS DIFFERENTLY. THEIR EXPOSURE TO THE WORLD AND KNOWLEDGE WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM OUR CURRENT TIME. TODAY WE HAVE THE ADVANTAGE OF A REALITY THAT STRETCHES MUCH FURTHER THANKS TO OUR MODERN WAYS OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION GATHERING. BUT STILL, IN ALL THEIR LIMITED WISDOM, OUR ANCESTORS WERE LOOKING FOR THE SAME THINGS AS US, AND MAYBE EVEN IN WAYS THAT ARE MORE HONEST, MORE PURE THAN WE CURRENTLY DO. AND SO, BY LACK OF PROOF AND UNDERSTANDING, THEY CREATED IMAGES OF THE THINGS THEY COULD NOT FIND, BUT KNEW THAT THEY MUST EXIST.
The griffin is a mythological hybrid animal, created to symbolize the sovereignty of both heaven and earth. Strong as a lion and majestic as an eagle, it was said to have extraordinary power and to be the guardian of treasures and priceless possessions. The griffin has been present in our cultures all though history. It has inspired many when it comes to the search of wisdom and beauty, two elements that are equivalent for the griffin’s dual kingdom. Many have sought for proof of existence of this legendary creature and just as many have failed. But that doesn’t mean the griffin did not exist. Or possibly still exists.
The search for both wisdom and beauty is not new. The Old Greeks did it and so did Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Closer to our time there are others who have enrolled on the quest of this Holy Grail. Robert Mapplethorpe for example. All these people have been – and still are – of great influence and inspiration for Dutch photographer Jan Griffioen. Jan Griffioen (which means, yes, griffin) only started his photographic explorations at later age. Born in 1942, in a hamlet in The Netherlands, Jan made his first career as teacher of Dutch language and literature at university and secondary education. It wasn’t before his early 40’s that he answered his internal call that brought him on the path in search of beauty. Which he found in photography.
In 1989 Jan Griffioen started a photography enterprise and did sacred architecture and male nudes as free work. Male photography isn’t easy and it took Jan a long time to get to the point where he is today. “I am a great admirer of the male body. It is a fantastic work to see nude male bodies, to light them in a appropriate way and to realize a two-dimensional image. It is fantastic to work with men who are willing to expose themselves to me and to the world, who inspire me, who stimulate my creativity and with whom I can have a real human interaction.” For Jan, male nude photography is nearly the only situation in life of a perfect cooperation and the same intention: making beautiful pictures. Aware of the fact that many consider male nudes as a grey area between artistic and pornographic photography, Jan Griffioen has made it his personal goal to celebrate the joy of beauty and eroticism. “I try to keep off pornography, not for moral reasons or because I shouldn't like it, but because I first and fore all want to make beautiful photos.” Like a griffin, with experience and knowledge, Jan Griffioen creates wonderful portraits of male nudes with only one objective: creating a thing of beauty that is and always will be a joy forever. –BM-
JAN GRIFFIOEN | BEAUTIFULMAG