Valentine, Biarritz 2004, Hahnemuhle Baryta FineArt Print 84x108cm, Edition of 5, Museum Print, Also available: 40x50cm, Edition of 7
Photo by Mart Engelen
Influenced at a very young age by French film noir and Italian neo-realism, Mart Engelen immediately realized that he wanted to present his images in black-and-white. “I don’t like colour because it distracts too much from the essence of my subjects. Black-and-white clarifies my message. Photography enables me to capture a kind of directness, spontaneity, emotionality and authenticity in my subjects in a split second”. He has captured celebrities in the worlds of art, fashion, film, music, business and politics. His subjects have included Morgan Freeman, Willem Dafoe, Al Pacino, Michel Houellebecq, Anselm Kiefer and Gilbert & George. The intensity of expression conveyed in these portraits of diverse personalities often reaches beyond their public role. While his compositions might be described as being traditional or classic, there is something special that stands out in Engelen’s visual depiction of his subjects, something that the experienced viewer can feel, but not always capture in words. Perhaps it is this inimitable combination of confidence and vulnerability that we come to fathom in his work.