JEROEN OERLEMANS at Rotterdam Kunsthal


As one of the rare Dutch press photographers, Jeroen Oerlemans often worked in areas of crisis. He travelled to Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq on a regular basis. Whether they concerned wars, natural disasters, famines or the refugees crisis, the reports he made during his travels managed to give world problems a human face. At home with his family in Amsterdam, he primarily worked on commissioned portraits. Oerlemans’ photographs are characterized by an enormous involvement with the situations he captured, a strong sense of aesthetics and a sharp eye for composition. The exhibition was compiled by his wife Boes Hogewind and shows images that are at the heart of current affairs.

Jeroen Oerlemans visited numerous areas of conflict, from Haiti and the Sudan to the Lebanon. Although he was well aware of the fact that his work was dangerous, he felt an inner necessity to follow his heart. He aimed to show the impact of war, both on the world and on the local population. For the exhibition ‘Jeroen Oerlemans’, the focus of Hogewind’s choice lies on Oerlemans’ work as a reporter and therefore emphasizes the importance of independent reporting. From the famine in Chad (2004), that was the result of ethnic cleansing, and the destructive earthquake in Port-au-Prince (2010) to the riots that broke out after the fall of Gaddafi (2011) in Libya. With his camera, he also reported on the influx of refugees in Greece (2010) and the disaster site of flight MH17 (2014) in the Ukraine.

Jeroen Oerlemans (1970-2016) was a three-time recipient of the first prize in the Silver Camera foreign news category. In 2008, 2010 and 2011 he received this award for his photographs of the Greek-Turkish border region, Afghanistan and Libya. For a photograph made in the Lebanon he received an honourable mention in the World Press Photo’s news category in 2007. His work has been published in numerous international media outlets such as Newsweek, Time, The Guardian and The Sunday Times. In 2016, Knack commissioned Oerlemans to travel to Libya, where he was shot dead by an IS sniper in the Libyan city of Sirte on October 2nd.


JEROEN OERLEMANS at Rotterdam Kunsthal continues until 4th March.