Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes

Since its very beginning, photography has been inspired by painting. The Renaissance ones had a particular impact on photographers (the “Rembrandt light” is still widely used today).
Artist Suzanne Jongmans pays tribute to this influence by modernizing her portraits through her use of industrial materials in costume making. Her meticulous work forces the viewer to stop in front of her images, to observe them closely…

Can you introduce yourself for those who don’t know you?

I am Suzanne Jongmans, an artist living in Breda, Netherlands with my family.

“I discovered I could capture reality and adjust it to keep the most positive aspects […]”

Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes
©Suzanne Jongmans – Mind over Matter – Patience / Courtesy Galerie Wilms

How did your passion for photography begin? How did you get into portrait photography?

I discovered I could capture reality and adjust it to keep the most positive aspects and frame that. I was introduced to it by pre-artschool courses.
Also my dad was always into photography and filming.

Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes
©Suzanne Jongmans – Kindred Spirits – Transcendence / Courtesy Galerie Wilms

Your series “Mind over Matter” is very strongly inspired by the Great Masters of Painting. Where did you get this love for classical painting?

Well, my mother owned several art books that I often looked at.
Later, a teacher at the art school showed many books of Grand Masters. I like the faces of these paintings, they almost look like they’re in a meditative state.

“I design and realize everything you see in the final image.”

Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes
©Suzanne Jongmans – Mind over Matter – Infinity I / Courtesy Galerie Wilms

There is a great work done on the costumes, that you create yourself.
How did you come up with the idea of integrating industrial materials into your creations?

 I design and realize everything you see in the final image. As far as working time it depends. Several weeks, sometimes several months. My work is inspired by my own life, it is often about moods.
Inspiration is born like that, but it is translated in different ways, through the materials, the expression, the title of the work.

“I am always looking for models, faces that intrigue me […]”

Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes
©Suzanne Jongmans – Kindred Spirits – Between reality and dreams / Courtesy Galerie Wilms

How do you build an image?

In a variable order:
I find the materials, I start “building” a costume on a mannequin until something is “there”. I am always looking for models, faces that intrigue me, they are often relatives, friends of friends, family. But also people I meet or see on the street who have an appearance that speaks to me.

“I’m always looking into the books of the Great Masters of Painting until an image comes to mind.”

Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes
©Suzanne Jongmans – Mind over Matter – Gratitude / Courtesy Galerie Wilms

I’m always looking into the books of the Great Masters of Painting until an image comes to mind. I take several hundred pictures of the model, of each detail – this approach also has a purpose – the model almost forgets that I am there, that’s when a magical moment can happen.

Then I start assembling all the images on my computer. This way, all parts are as sharp as possible. And all the components come together, all the parts come together.

“[…] I like the fact that some objects or materials found […] have already had a life before”

Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes
©Suzanne Jongmans – Kindred Spirits – Holding Space / Courtesy Galerie Wilms

There is a message about ecology behind these portraits. Do you think that art should be engaged in social causes?

Perhaps this is how my work is received by others. But that’s not how it started, I’m mainly a collector of materials.

And I like the fact that some objects or materials found (it can be plastic, foam, old blankets, wool blankets, things from nature) have already had a life before and tell a story in themselves, I take these materials and add it to my own story. This automatically creates a temporal link, or perhaps better said, a dialogue over time.

“Have fun and care about what you do.”

Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes
©Suzanne Jongmans – Owen de dialoog / Courtesy Galerie Wilms

I’m not an activist, but I support those who recycle! I think it’s the most important thing to move forward in life with love and not be an activist in anything.
Don’t push, work with what you have and look for the positive aspects (the way things are seen from the perspective of the mind rather than the perspective of matter).

What advice would you give to a young photographer who wants to take up portrait photography?

Have fun and care about what you do.

Suzanne Jongmans Transforms Industrial Materials into Renaissance Costumes
©Suzanne Jongmans – Kindred Spirits – Confronting love / Courtesy Galerie Wilms

Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

I’m working on my current series, on kindred spirits. There will be a collaboration with songwriter Mercury Carter, a cover for his next album, a solo exhibition at the Wilms Gallery, some art fairs, Kunstrai, PAN .
The realization of a new book, about my art.