Present + Corona Walks
Stephan Vanfleteren - Present
Present is the renowned Belgian photographer Stephan Vanfleteren’s (°1969) first major retrospective. The general public knows him best for his evocative black-and-white portraits but in recent decades he has produced a wide range of journalistic, documentary and artistic work. This exhibition provides space for both his iconic images and his equally impressive, lesser-known photographs, which together illustrate the evolution of Vanfleteren’s oeuvre.
Throughout his career, Vanfleteren has shifted between action and stillness, heightened human interaction and complete aloneness. He explored the world as a young photographer, hungry for action. He also took pictures in his native country: every important news event of the 90s passed before his lens. Around the turn of the millennium, his working pace slowed down and the photographer turned his attention to the things that will soon disappear. He began to record his home country and compatriots with the doggedness of an archivist. His images reflect the melancholy psyche of a true romantic and the experience of a seasoned professional. Belgium has found its visual chronicler.
For his personal, long-term projects Vanfleteren continues to travel the world, but the world is also welcomed into the intimate environment of his natural light studio. This has led to a myriad of encounters and portraits. Quietude and death have increasingly crept into his work, elements that are central to two never-before-exhibited series exploring still life and nude photography.
For Present, Vanfleteren delved into his own archive but also into FOMU’s extensive collection. Vanfleteren presents a highly personal choice of the photographic works that have influenced him: from Berenice Abbott to Walker Evans, from Irving Penn to Bernd & Hilla Becher. This selection is complemented by objects and publications chosen by the photographer for their special meaning to him.
The exhibition takes over the entire museum and leads the visitor on a journey through the thirty-three years of Vanfleteren’s career. Present offers the opportunity to look back on a rich and intense oeuvre with one element in common: the photographer is always present.
Stephan Vanfleteren was born in Kortrijk, Belgium, in 1969. He studied photography at the Sint Lucas instituut in Brussels (1988-1992). From 1993 to 2009, he worked as a freelance photographer for the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. Alongside his assignments for the newspaper, he worked constantly on personal projects. Recent years have seen him working on commissions from various museums, exhibiting his work internationally and publishing his photographs in newspapers and magazines around the world, including Le Monde (FR), De Volkskrant (NL), The New York Times (US) and De Standaard (BE).