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Art Photo Collector

Posts tagged Belgium:

"What appears in the pictures was the subject’s decision, not mine. I took what they presented—delicate moments—unadorned and unglamorous, yet tender and exquisite. —Ray Metzker 

Belgium isn’t a land of sunshine and smiles, but there is a no-nonsense, hardworking attitude that I’ve always respected. It’s this commonsensical approach to life that I see in the work of Belgian photographer, Jacques Sonck, who is currently on exhibit at L. Parker Stephenson Photographs here in NYC. Sonck, who trained as a photographer, did the practical thing in life: he got a job shooting images at the Culture Department of the Province of Antwerp. For 35 years he photographed their exhibition catalogs and earned a living, while doing his own personal work on the side. 

Looking at his images, we can conjure the influences of Arbus and Penn, but Sonck’s images are not derivative. He is straightforward and unapologetic about what he’s doing. He’s a skilled photographer who has no personal interest, at all, in the lives of his sitters. Indeed, he often doesn’t even know their names. What he’s after is the transcendence found in any great portrait. That is, the notion that through the alchemy of photographer and subject, the photograph, itself, elevates their brief experience into something greater that we can engage and project ourselves onto. They are looking at us, we are looking at them, and we are all looking at each other. —Lane Nevares

"I felt that children smoking would have a surreal impact upon the viewer and compel them to truly see the acts of smoking rather than making assumptions about the person doing the act." Frieke Janssens 

Last week, I attended the preview for, “Smoking Kids,” by the Belgian photographer, Frieke Janssens. I was impressed at how much fun an opening could be. Rather than a stuffy affair, it was packed with well-dressed Belgians out in support of one of their own, enjoying live music and good drink. In essence, a party.

Frieke Janssens images of smoking children may, on first take, seem real, but they’re not. With any photographic work, much lies in what we bring to the moment of engagement with the image. Understanding a photographer’s intent, therefore, can sometimes be a little ambiguous. With these beautiful portraits of children, I find that to be the case. Janssens is asking us to question the viewer’s relationship to smoking, and then what?  Do these portraits transcend their stylized appeal?  

Janssens is an accomplished photographer bold enough to follow her imagination wherever it may lead. She understands how to produce good work, and I salute her. I suspect that despite some finding her depiction of children controversial, much of the work will sell here, as it has in Europe. The exhibit is up until the 8th of February at the VII Gallery in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Stay tuned, you’ll be hearing more about Frieke Janssens. —Lane Nevares