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Donna at night
Tierra guajira. Photo: Raúl Cañibano
‘T OOGENBLIK FOTOGRAFIE:
Capturing imagination TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK | PHOTOS: JOHAN VAN CUTSEM
An Icelandic glacier; black rain clouds in Botswana; an undiscovered mountain landscape in Ladakh: Johan Van Cutsem’s photos witness an awe for the raw essence of nature. Set in the heart of Leuven, Van Cutsem’s photo gallery ‘t Oogenblik has gained a name as a haven of photography in Belgium, showcasing his own work alongside that of emerging and established photographers. Located a mere stone’s throw away from Leuven’s city hall, ‘t Oogenblik opened its doors three years ago. The gallery boasts two spaces: one displaying a permanent collection of Van Cutsem’s own work, the other plays host to ever-changing exhibitions from fascinating photographers from every corner of the world. Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano, the Icelandic Ragnar Axelsson and Belgian native Jasper Léonard have all recently exhibited at ‘t Oogenblik. UKIUMI is the gallery’s latest exhibition: a display of photos that 14 | Issue 49 | January 2018
Van Cutsem shot in the deep northeast of Greenland. Van Cutsem has been a professional photographer for nearly 30 years, first for the press, later with an increased focus on travel photography. “During my career, I gradually found out that in my photographs I wanted to show more and more of a certain pure, natural essence and leave out the unnecessary,” he says. “That meant less people, fewer signs of civilisation and finally pure nature.” Being a fervent traveller, Van Cutsem’s photos often depict the most unique and far away corners of the globe, in which untouched nature plays a major role and the high north especially serves as an inspiration. Van Cutsem is one of the initiators of Unexposed: an association that organises an exhibition held every September across the city of Leuven highlighting the city as a platform for photography – in a sense it is an extension of ‘t Oogenblik.
PhotoTWENS is the initiative’s platform for the new generation of photographers and consists of a range of images from young photographers, which are selected by a jury. So how does Van Cutsem select works for his gallery? “Originality, technical skills and a certain depth are important, but a work mainly has to exude an emotion,” he explains. “I seek out a photographer whose work I would like to show myself, and will visit him or her on one of my travels. I admire photographers that focus on one specific location for a longer time, truly get to know the place, and find new inspiration from it every time.” ‘t Oogenblik offers photography courses and organises exclusive photography trips to far-away locations.
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