Henri Senders (The Netherlands, 1958) is not what you would call an enfant prodigé, but he is a natural talent. Too cool for school, he taught himself photography, and woha, he became a damn good artist.
He started his career in 2006. His first experiments were shot in castles, greenhouses and basements, rather than in a studio, where he learned how to work with scarce, natural light. Since the beginning he always moved in confined spaces, using the surroundings and objets trouvés such as old windows, twigs and spiderwebs as his props. In this collection, his photography is uniquely represented by portraits, the most prominent part of his body of work. It is in fact in portrait photography that Henri’s approach has developed most significantly over the past few years, taking him from his first efforts to the Florence Biennale 2011, and in November 2014 to the publication of his first monographic book: In Search of Intimacy, a selection of works from the period 2007-2014.
As the artist often says, he prefers portraying outcasts than professional models, troubled people, individuals who “can’t fit in the world”. His modus operandi is based on intuition and communication: after finding a model and a location that will inspire him, Henri starts the long dialogue that will constitute the crucial part of the creative process. When the intimacy between the photographer and the model is accomplished, once the magical circle and its rules are established, the shooting follows intricate and yet spontaneous parables. Henri never plans ahead of the shooting: based on the mood of the day, the weather, the natural light available and pure inspiration, he patiently follows his characters in their movements and interaction with the settings. While the models unravel their deeper emotions, life stories, desires and even their traumas, the final picture starts taking shape, without a hierarchical direction. Whether this will be the true expression of the character’s self or an idealised projection, the result will often be the image of people frozen in a timeless non-place, like insects trapped in amber. Sometimes gothic in atmospheres, others warm, sensual and erotic, Henri Senders’ work is set in an inner world, magical and mysterious, where certainties leave room for doubt, where seeing less becomes seeing more.
The Awesome is for Henri a mix of sacred and profane, aestheticism and form, expressed by placing emphasis on emotion rather than intellectual interpretation, in these impressionistic and romantic portraits, in colour and black and white.
AAF Battersea Spring 2017 (Mar 2017)