Since many years André travels around making appointments with artists, gallerists and curators about taking their picture in their studio or office with their backs turned against the camera. André does not bother them with interesting stories or artistic statements about positions and compositions. He also does not make a photographer's circus with lamps and tripods: he makes up his mind and takes the picture by hand camera.
Apart from the beauty of this radical concept we thought that a presentation in Sub urban could cause an interesting architectural meeting. (www.dredd.nl)
In painting and photography artists have been making extensive use of the suggestive influence of characters with their backs turned to the picture plane. They bend our attention to what they’re looking at. Although physiognomy and eyes of the figure are entirely out of sight they bring the viewer in an emphatic way aware of 'looking'. Because the individual characteristics of the figure are given little emphasis, a form of identification sometimes occurs.
Anyway, the backwards figure is a stylistic device of choice to direct the watching of the viewer to the image behind the figure. Sometimes it is disclosed what the focus of perception is. Sometimes it seems a gaze into unfathomable depths.
In these latter cases, the suggestiveness is optimal and turns watching into reflection.
André Smits knows his classics and refers in his series of photographs of artists playfully to the diverse possibilities of the backwards figure. He shows them posing in their studios, looking at their work, peering from a window or a doorway, seemingly lost in thought.
"That moment of reflection, I would like to capture in those pictures," he explains. “I also want the photos to testify of the solitude of the profession. It intrigues me what the artist impels to isolate himself in order to dedicate his life to his art. During my tour of studios, I try to focus on that question."
André Smits gives us a glimpse into those spaces where the artists converse their ideas and emotions into shape and colour and where every moment a new creative horizon may open. Simultaneously, the ever-expanding series of photographs provides an image of the artistic calling and creates - by the unpretentious way of approaching and photographing - an endearing tribute to it.
Through personal contacts new contacts arise, expanding slowly the network and thus the series.
By now the concept is no longer limited to artists. Also museum directors, gallery owners, art critics and other personalities from the art world posed with their backs to the camera posted. What began as a small circle in Rotterdam has now grown into a network across the Netherlands and Europe. It has increasingly been taking the form of a journey that is reflected in an expanding series of photographed figures.
~ Han Steenbruggen Museum Belvedere, Heerenveen