Gallery owner, entrepreneur, art director, event organizer, but above all: photographer. Lenny Oosterwijk, this year's winner of the Silver Camera (portrait category), has plans that extend beyond all rivers, from a larger gallery to much more autonomous work. Oh yes, I also bought a refurbishment in France this year. Project number so much,' he laughs.
In his high light space on Drievriendenstraat, Lenny is just saying goodbye to a client. I'm going to shoot the campaign image for Poetry International. We now had a preliminary discussion,' he says. It just shows how wide his palette is. In addition to a lot of travel photography, Lenny specialises in portraits; his work can be found in places such as Vrij Nederland. Earlier this year he won the Silver Camera, category portrait, with a photo of Armand. The singer's bright red hair is almost touchingly sharp, the stirring of souls almost palpable.
When I started, magazines like Vrij Nederland were wait-and-see. They liked my work, but gave priority to photographers who were already working for them. But I didn't give up and kept sending them work. In the end I succeeded and I still work for them. And so more stones began to roll. Started at Rails, Vrij Nederland and later a role as art director, also at Rails. And from that position I founded Nouvelle Media, a company that provides content for screens in the city, together with three partners. We're now in Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague'.
Rotterdam has always been his home base. When Lenny bought a building on the Bergweg a few years ago, there was a space on the ground floor that lent itself perfectly for a gallery. In Galerie Untitled he now shares work by artists he likes, such as Sasja Hagen and Sander Buik. Every month he organizes a Sunday afternoon event with musicians, artists and poets. Wilfried de Jong, David van Reybrouck and Hugo Borst already made their appearance. I really enjoy the people there, the atmosphere. We work hard for it, there's a lot to do in Rotterdam these days and you really have to stand out if you want people to come, but by now we're attracting people from far beyond the city's borders. 'Learning by doing' sometimes you also need peace and quiet and then nature is the ideal operating base. The camera goes along and that has resulted in an almost mystical series about rivers. I'm someone who has to learn by doing. In my nature series I took a lot of bad pictures, before I found my shape and subject. I don't set long-term goals either. What will I be doing in ten years' time? I don't know. "I'm doing what I'm doing right now.
The power of multidisciplinarityOne of these projects is a collaboration with SKAR to start a larger gallery on Koningsveldestraat. In this project Lenny wants to act as curator and offer others a subgallery in the same space. Of course there will also be an opportunity for events, parties and dinners. I like to let things grow, to see what happens when different disciplines interact. But growing also means pruning: there is a limit to the number of hours in a day. 'I've decided to take another assistant for a few days a week. That way I can keep all my projects, because it's diversity that gives me energy'.