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Schmets - FEMINA SANCTA

Ronald Schmets’ inspiration was born in South Limburg in the Netherlands. The Catholic boys’ school he went to in the southernmost tip of the Netherlands was housed in an old marlstone building that originally served a monastery.

All of the boys went to church every Sunday. The religious prints and statues made a powerful impression on the young Schmets. He was struck by the contrast in the images of Jesus and Mary. While the Son of God was depicted virtually naked and in a way that was almost erotic, his mother was always heavily robed and exceptionally serene. ‘I’m going to reverse those roles when I grow up,’ he thought.

In line with the tradition of the great artists of the Renaissance, saintly women swathed in fluttering robes play a leading role in his work. Always surrounded by religious references and symbols. Visions of the feminine as virgin, lover and mother – a power that men will never possess. His work constantly returns to the theme of the saintly women of days gone by. Pictures of women depicted with respect. Women who radiate serenity and composure.

Schmets’ latest series, FEMINA SANCTA, pays tribute to saintly women such as Mary Magdalene, Joan of Arc, Saint Theresa and Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, all of whom are depicted in Renaissance style 2008. Schmets draws his inspiration from celebrated artists such as Botticelli, Rubens, Bouguereau, Waterhouse and Klimt.

 

Method

Schmets started painting and drawing at the age of four and sold his first painting at the age of twelve. When he was fourteen he was given an old Zenith camera as a birthday present and quickly developed a love of photography. He was the youngest student ever to start studying at the KABK Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. As a graphic designer he was able to combine his love of photography with designing and painting. He then completed a short postgraduate course in photography at the St. Joost Academy in Breda.

In his first reportages Schmets focused on ‘the real person and their environment’. However, producing corporate and advertising photography for large design and advertising agencies was also very appealing. Schmets went on to produce work for clients such as Fortis, Connexxion and the Dutch Tax Authorities. At the same time he had a nagging sense that he needed to explore his own creativity. The result was Nieuwe Ikonen (New Icons), a series in which Schmets combined photography and painting.

Over the last two years paint has given way to the computer, with which Schmets is able to achieve the same results. As director and photographer he directs the creativity of a team that consists of a producer, an assistant, a stylist, a makeup artist and a digital image processing specialist. He notes his ideas in a sketchbook. A quick pencil sketch eventually results in image that is sometimes made up of 35 different photographs. He sometimes even combines photographs of three different models in order to be able to evoke the feminine archetype he has in mind as fully as possible. He starts by photographing the background. Then he lights the models and props accordingly. He prints the image on metallic paper – a technique that combines digital print with a developing tray. Eventually the print is stuck on dibont and embedded in three layers of synthetic resin. This then becomes the lens through which the print is perceived. This approach enables Schmets to give each image its own unique look.

 

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