Hans Neleman was born and raised in Holland, lives in Connecticut and is based out of New York.
Between high school and university Hans took a year-long course in anthroposophy at a Rudolf Steiner School in Holland.
"Yes, anthroposophy encourages and motivates you to follow your heart. At that time I wanted to be an actor but soon realized it was just a fad. Then I toyed with the idea of fashion designer, thinking to ultimately build on my interest in sculpture and painting.” And then came photography.
After Goldsmiths’ he was accepted at the Polytechnic of Central London and received a Bachelor of Art degree in film and photography.
At the same time he was assisting advertising and fashion photographers. Now he is, since many years, an esteemed commercial and fine arts photographer working from SoHo, New York City.
He also studied semiology, the science of signs and symbols which is especially apparent in his still life and collage work. Interesting is also that he has been fascinated by what he calls “morbid beauty and modern taboos” his latest personal project addresses body modification: people who inhabit their bodies in more extreme ways than the rest of us.
He also feels that as the traditional poles between high and low culture, particularly those to do with art, collapse and as global culture increasingly supplants local traditions and national or ethnic identity it has become more imperative to document the private contemporary underground community.
“Fashion has long flirted with it as a source of inspiration, film, television and other media have fictionalized it in sensational ways, but it is rarely seen from a documentary art perspective with the purpose of creating a coherent narrative of who, where, when, how and why.”
Neleman works with a Hasselblad H1 with a 120 mm lens and a zoom lens 50 – 110mm. “The zoom lens is so versatile, I love it. And originally I was so attracted to the simplicity of the Hasselblad idea of back, body and lens.”
And asked what he demands from camera equipment in order to achieve a successful result his reply is “reliability especially”. His answer is understandable as he spends many days of the year travelling and then digging into almost impossible environments exposing both the equipment and himself to the utmost strains.
Among his major clients you find Sony, American Express, Adidas.
Most recently he has worked for NIKE. “The art directors were inspired by my still life work, assemblages and collages and combined it with my new fashion approach in photography to come up with really cool 8x8 foot structures which involved painting, grafiti etc. It was like being back in art school where it all began.”
Log onto Hans Neleman´s website for a selection of his recent work.
Books: Moko-Maori Tattoo published by Edition Stemmle 1999, Silence by Edition Stemmle 2000, Night Chicas by Graphis 2003.