In 2002, I graduated in audiovisual design at the art academy St. Joost in Breda. After graduating, I committed myself to making short, personal documentary videos. In these videos I observe people in urban environments who are engaged in everyday practices and social interaction, often resulting in bizarre conclusions. These works were widely distributed and shown at numerous national and international short film festivals.
From 2010 onwards, I shifted my means of working to photography. I documented people in a melancholic atmosphere of darkness in poses and expressions that revealed a thoughtful or ecstatic state of being. Even though the images are dark in appearance, they also harbor lightness and kind sensitivity.
Approximately five years ago, my photographic work took a quite vigorous turn and intensified to mainly black and white portraiture. Fueled by personal circumstances, I was required to totally exist within a tighter framework. I created images of people while being in rehabilitation, I met on the street and of those I had known for years. By reflecting on myself, I enabled compassionate reflection on others. I only asked permission to take a picture and made sure my subjects looked into the lens as if they were able to see me without the camera in between. This resulted in images that reveal the middle between maker and subject. An attempt to learn about and overcome the 'dark matter' dividing us all.
From 2020 my portraits have been mainly in color. The recent color works still spur from my original fascination with observing people, but I now enable myself to step into the scene and engage with them slightly. However, my method remains strictly documentary and I always work on location. This adds to the specific qualities I strive for in a final picture. The people I record seem to watch you with a degree of apprehension and look at you warily, suspiciously, caught off guard. Some of them are obscure but mostly look at you directly. Their wariness expresses all but a certain state of being: they doubt rather than confirm to you their existence. They are waiting for your answer and make you ill at ease with their vulnerability and specific gaze. As if they ask, what are you going to do, what is your next move?
The works are not an attempt to express the true nature of the person in the photograph, but rather aspects of myself that I want to reveal to the world. They are a search for proof of existence in relationship to others and an attempt to make you reflect on existence itself. Showing actual humanity by an interaction with the other and thereby 'really' seeing the other proves all the more relevant in our era of social media and pandemics. The tranquil attention needed to view the portraits is something to cherish. You could also turn the latter around: the images act as a kind of antidote to loneliness and self-centeredness. A quality with a long tradition within the arts, which can also be found in the paintings of the 'old masters'. In this way, I try to revolt against contemporary beauty standards and polarization in a seductive and aesthetic manner.
The fact that I want my work to be able to transcend the inescapable qualities of a portrait, like identity, place and time, is a major challenge. But if I succeed, it is precisely the combination of all the described properties, that will have the effect that I have in mind. By creating a (specific) universality, I try to accomplish a profound connection between people.