Bemmel man roams the world in search of the origins of cultural heritage.

Through the atmosphere in his photos, Bemmel photographer Rob Sweebe is going back to the basis. “The essence of non-commercial photography is pointlessness.”

The human eye focuses primarily on the core. Peripheral phenomena scarcely manage to percolate through to our consciousness. But the camera lens of Bemmel man, Rob Sweebe (63), registers far more. “The essence of non-commercial photography is pointlessness.”

Sweebe’s roots lie in Indonesia. In 1960, he came to the Netherlands with his parents. After studying photography at art school came his own business with portrait and wedding photos, and later reportages abroad.

Ten years ago, he left the commercial world behind him. “The snake was eating its own tail. I want to avoid ending up in a world where images are manipulated.”
Sweebe opted for a job in the healthcare sector so he could concentrate fully on non-commercial photography in his free time. In search of tragic scenes. “I want to show how we are treating nature and cities. Sometimes expressed through nudes. In a search for symbols,” is how he explains his work.
Every summer, he sets forth, in the Netherlands or abroad.
Practicing drawing and painting is perfect preparation for these trips. “It makes me look at objects differently. If I get that dexterity back, I want to start building that up at the regional level.”

His travels are cultural-historical meanderings on his bike with a tent. “Seeking out primitive conditions. Looking at a chapel while I’ve got a bit of hunger and thirst.” Sweebe’s vision is based on a number of well-considered arguments. He mentions loyalty, vision and atmosphere.
“But in this area, there is little demand for this genre,” Sweebe has noticed. Which is why he focuses on international networks. Sweebe is affiliated with the Galeria Sosa in Mexico, through which he exhibited last summer in Poland and the Ukraine: solo shows in genuine metropolises.
“I was raised in a very Western manner. I am loyal to where I come from. You should treasure that and make it known” says Sweebe, not without some emotion in his voice. “Everything is being destroyed here in the Betuwe. The cultural heritage is disappearing.”

Rob Sweebe

  • Rob Sweebe was born on the Indonesian island of Bali in 1948
  • After attending art school to study photography, he worked in marketing and advertising – on location and in the studio – for commercial companies and private individuals.
  • Ten years ago, he quit and has since focused on non-commercial photography.
  • Last summer he exhibited in, amongst other places, Poland and the Ukraine.
  • In addition to photography, Sweebe is now also focusing on drawing and painting.

Niek Verhoeven.

Photo William Moore.

De Gelderlander (the Gelderland regional daily) | Friday 4 February 2011

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