Hans Withoos (1962) is an experienced fashion and advertising photographer, based in Rotterdam. For commissioned work he also collaborates with Jolanda Cats. Personal ‘fine art’ work of Hans Withoos is characterized by colourful images full of fantasy, with eccentric aesthetics. In an intriguing manner he uses image manipulation. His work was exhibited in galleries and at art fairs in The Netherlands and the United States. And it is internationally included in institutional and private art collections.
Hans Withoos’ career spans more than twenty years in which he satisfyingly combined his commissioned work with his autonomous work. Although highly successful in his commercial and international fashion work with clients from Brasil to Spain to Italy, the United States and Morocco, he also is prolific in his autonomous work, making many photography series over the years, mostly situated in recognizable places and cities around the world.
His fascination is with beauty in all its aspects: the beauty of drama, the beauty of the body and the beauty of light, as well as the ‘beauty of suffering’ (as seen in his series ‘Nocturnal Delight’, based on the seven deadly sins), the beauty of strength (as seen in his serise ‘New Romantics’ and ‘Lady with her Golden Toys’), the beauty of symbolism in his newest series ‘Withoos meets Withoos’. Even these still lifes in Withoos meets Withoos’ are recognizable for his work: the same dramatic light and full of layers.
Hans Withoos’ photography is set in the world of abundance and artifice — the smell of decadence wafts towards the viewer. It’s a world simultaneously familiar and different. In Withoos’ exaggerated scenes, the figures crowding the images become archetypes, and the viewer is overcome by a sense of alienation. The work is full of layered, staged images with idiosyncratic aesthetics. Sometimes the photographs evoke emotions related to suffering, sensuality and hidden oppressiveness; at other times the images depict the complete opposite and are deliberately emotionless.
The artist describes his oeuvre: “The images don’t show a critical perspective, but rather an observant one. The way I work: after creating an idea, I work quite pragmatic looking for a location, models, styling, etc. After everything is arranged new ideas come up during the shoot, for the why and how in the final picture. I’m always totally open for change, when something can finally be better in another way then expected at first. You can call it staged photography, which it certainly is. But there will always be some surprises or unexpected items visible in his work. Then, after shooting, I work like a painter – layer over layer – creating in my mind and on my computer. Sometimes it takes weeks before a certain picture is finally finished.”
Withoos meets Withoos
For his latest series of photographs “Withoos meets Withoos” he combines still lifes and landscapes of the 17th century painter Matthias Withoos with his own contemporary images.
By combining paintings with photography Hans Withoos brings still lifes alive again. Images are built up layer upon layer. With adding flowers, birds and models the original works are given a new and colorful story.
Matthias Withoos (1627-1703) is a distant forefather of Hans Withoos. As a painter he is known for his Italianate landscapes and cityscapes. He followed his training as a painter with Jacob van Campen.
New additions to Nocturnal Delight – 2015
The Muses of Klimt – 2014
My name is Blessing – for Orange Babies – 2013
Hans Withoos – The New Romantics – 2013
The new romanticism of Hans Withoos has a strong reference to classical art themes such as’ The Three Graces‘, ‘Pietà‘ and ‘manipulated landscapes’. His imaginative pictures have a positive effect and bring us to Iceland, Arnhem, Den Bosch and Rotterdam. In the images, the environment is almost more important than the people. This environment tells the story.
For ‘The New Romantics‘, the photographer chose to portray people whose physique or character symbolize the archetypes that he wants to show. Jolanda Cats and Al Benmira signed for the unprecedented styling and makeup. The specially designed clothing also includes a dress of human hair. For the finishing touch advanced image manipulation has been used.