In the midst of the world’s chaos, Rogier Houwen’s work is an invitation to abide in meditation. From the beginning of his artistic expressions he has been exploring and contemplating his perception through the medium of photography. In the darkroom he spends days and nights, printing the images he captures in the solitude of nature and the cocoon of his studio. In this process, his experience merges with timelessness and his mind dissolves into the meditative state. Out of that state his photographs are born and shared with the world as hints, hinting at the eye of a hurricane.
After seven dedicated years of printing in the darkroom, Houwen left the photographic paper unexposed and engaged himself in an experiment. Instead of projecting an image onto its surface, he decided to take the paper home and use it as an object for concentration. For one month long, three hours a day, he observed the empty sheet of paper. When his concentration became undisturbed and one-pointed, the mind’s eagerness to be active became absent.
Blank like the object in front of him there was the freshness of seeing something for the very first time. This freshness – the experience of seeing prior to knowledge and memory – became a catalyst for his work that followed. At the end of this experiment he documented the empty sheet of paper and then he crumpled the paper. The light sensitive paper, produced to carry and preserve an image, transformed into a blank space and then into a landscape. This transformation and the documentation of it – resembling the malleable nature of perception – is the ongoing thread throughout Rogier Houwen’s photography.
From a landscape seen in a piece of paper, a light gap in a toothpick and the back of a human body in a butternut squash; these documentations of perceptions are reminders of seeing beyond the frames of the daily conditioning. His philosophy behind the photographs suggest: when the busy mind quietens, experience opens up for the possibility of seeing beyond the mind’s memory. Then, like the sound of a singing bowl can usher in silence, being in touch with the unknown can induce childlike wonder. Seeing from there, the magical and cosmic can be seen in all that surrounds us at any given moment.
Without pushing or pulling, Houwen’s photographs are contemplative in their nature. They reflect the openness and curiosity of exploration rather than they give answers and definitions. They are invitations to plunge in the unlabelled experience beyond the known.
Houwen prints his photographs using various techniques. He works with gelatine silver prints, photopolymer etches and archival pigment prints in limited editions. All pieces are printed on fine-art papers and carefully framed behind museum-glass.
1992, Laren, The Netherlands
BA Photography and Design, HKU University of The Arts Utrecht, Graduated in 2015.
Internship w/ Peter Svenson, Amsterdam Analogical Photoprinting, 2014
Nothing In Between (Solo), Circle Gallery, Amsterdam, 2021
Haute Photographie, Art Rotterdam, 2019
Personal, Kahmann Gallery, Amsterdam, 2018
Haute Photographie, Art Rotterdam, 2018
Kunstbeurs De PAN, Amsterdam, 2018
Unseen, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, 2017
Haute Photographie, Art Rotterdam, 2017
Rare, Kahmann Gallery, Amsterdam, 2016
In Persuit Of, Kahmann Gallery, Amsterdam, 2016
Amsterdam Art, Museumplein, Amsterdam, 2016
Haute Photographie, Art Rotterdam, 2016
Scapes, Kahmann Gallery, Amsterdam, 2016
This Art Fair, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam, 2015
Graduation Show, HKU, Utrecht, 2015
Windows, Walls Gallery, Amsterdam, 2012
Haute Magazine, 2018
Unseen Magazine, 2017
Haute Magazine, 2017
Haute Magazine, 2016
Mister Motley, 2015
NEW Photography Talent, 2012