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Luuk Smits: Metro Mentorship - Düsseldorf Photo Weekend Portfolio Prize 2016

09 February 2017
Dutch photographer Luuk Smits was awarded a Metro Mentorship at the Düsseldorf Photo Weekend in 2016.  We caught up with him before the opening of Art Rotterdam recently where he exhibited work he has been producing with Metro as part of his mentorship programme and find out more about what he's been up to since winning the prize.

Luuk firstly belated congratulations on winning the Metro Mentorship Düsseldorf Photo Weekend Portfolio Prize in 2016. What did you learn or gain from the experts here at Metro during your 12-month mentoring programme?

Thank you! With the help of the team at Metro team I made a decision about how to print the final image for the installation I have been working on. It is a life-size print of part of a pillar so it was quite a technical challenge. Finally using the Lambda Lightjet 500XL printer we produced a over-sized C Type print 124cm x 330cm in size. I documented and made a video of the whole process whilst working with Metro in London and the team helped me out with everything I asked.
You have a large exhibit in Prospects & Concepts at Art Rotterdam 2017.  Can you tell us a little bit about this particular piece and your involvement in Art Rotterdam?
In the past year my work has been based around elements of architecture; foundations, floors, walls and facade.  I have developed the work ‘Ancient Pillar’ in the past year, based on the element ‘Foundation’, inspired by the process of how Multiplex is made. During this process a tree, a structure of large size, is shaved down to only a few millimeters thin.  This gave me inspiration to photograph the surface of an old column in Greece.

Prospects & Concepts is an exhibition at Art Rotterdam hosted by the Dutch Mondriaan Foundation. All winners of a Young Talent grant from the foundation in 2015 are exhibiting in the show at Art Rotterdam.
Your style of work focuses on everyday objects and tactile urban landscape and structures – what inspires & draws you to this subject?

The objects I work with are often very accessible and recognizable - I feel some objects come to life and become almost human when they are imperfect. I have sharp eye for these imperfections and work with them to make these often banal things important and give them a new perspective.
When did your interest in photography begin and have you always had an ambition to become a photographer?
I grew up with mechanics around me.  In his spare time my dad worked a lot lot restoring vintage cars and motorbikes. My curiosity about how things work meant I started watching what he was doing, asking a lot of questions about the function of certain parts of the engine or other technical systems. After High school I had to choose a subject to study and I didn't really know what to do. My sisters boyfriend was photographing a lot in those days and this made me curious about photography. From the sales of a restored moped I bought my first digital camera and went to a technical photography school before going to the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, NL
Aside from Art Rotterdam 2017 do you have any interesting current projects or upcoming exhibitions you’d like to share with us?
The Foundation element is the first element in the project; Ancient Pillar (installation) and Modern Pillar (video).  In the coming year I want to develop my work with the other elements; Floor, Wall and Facade.
For the Floor element of my project I got selected to go to a residency at sundaymorning@EKWC in the European Ceramics Work Center in Oisterwijk, NL. I’m really excited about this as I will working continuously for three  months with material on the functionality of a floor.
What are your ultimate photography/career goals?

I would like to curate an exhibition where the works of all the elements - Foundation, Floor, Wall and Facade come together in one space thus creating a city of my own ‘the perfect, imperfect city’.
I’m really excited about the recent developments in my work and practice. Coming from a photography background I used the photographic observation as a starting point for my artistic process.  I’m now working more and more with different materials and media and through this process I hope to develop my artistic practice.
Prospects & Concepts - Mondriaan Fund 
Van Nelle Factory Van Nelleweg 1, Rotterdam

Exhibition dates: 8th - 12th February 2017

For more information about Art Rotterdam
For more information about Luuk Smits

Images © Luuk Smits

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