Arwe’s passion for the arts started in his early twenties when he became an avid art collector. At the height of a successful business career, a burn-out caused Arwe to reconsider what was truly important in life.
His fascination with human behavior and his passion for the arts have merged into a unique creative vision, utilizing the mise en scene as his palet and the ambiguity of human behavior as his voice.
Working closely with his models, Arwe searches for the moment when they are ready to shed their projected self-images and show who they really are.
At this moment of release, he registers their true vulnerability and openness.
In order to reach this state of release and freedom, Arwe lures his models out of their comfort zones with what he calls ‘dramatizing elements’, causing a conflict between the models’ assumed identities and their true self.
Arwe is the artist name of Richard Westerhuis (born in 1965). Arwe produces conceptual portraits in limited editions. In his work Arwe examines the ambiguity of human identity.
The name Arwe sounds like a question. A question about who we are. How are you? ‘I’m doing fine’. We all know this is not a real answer. It is a conditioned response that is socially acceptable. We put on a mask and give socially desirable answers and show socially acceptable behavior. We play different roles and show the behavior be fitting those roles. But where is our true self? Does it even exist? ‘Know yourself’, Socrates said. It is the most important task in life. Arwe experienced the nullity and temporality of human existence during his ocean voyages. Halcyon experiences and memories that are forever stored in his system.
We are constantly on the move, but why? The vastness of the oceans gave him all the answers.
The permanent change of nature made Arwe realize that even when in a static situation, there is plenty to observe and experience. A pure state of being in which media, advertising and all other nonsense were lacking. Only at sea the resonance of the earth is still tangible. Itis the oscillation that every living creature needs to be able to orient itself in order to find its ‘track’ in the world. On terra firma, Arwe utilized art to give expression this resonance. Even when he was not aware of it, art intuitively guided his path and success. Arwe’s passion for the arts came to surface when he became an art collector at the early age of 21. His plans to complete a fine arts education were interrupted when faith decided he had to take another direction. In 22 years, he created a highly successful business conglomerate in the Netherlands. A burnout made Arwe reconnect with his artistic roots and triggered his urge to explore human nature, using photography as his medium and human behavior as his voice. In 2016, Arwe decided to solely concentrate on creating art. He started exploring narratives based on his life experiences. His burnout experience became the subject of the series titled ‘Through the Second Skin’ (2017) which was well received by the public. Arwe is currently working on a second edition for the same series, due in the third quarter of 2018. Arwe has rapidly achieved the goals he set when he started as a conceptual artist. The decision to become a major influence in the fine arts scene has been reinforced by several awards and a number of solo and group exhibitions. He is committed to spread his message around the world, be it in galleries, art fairs and through social media. Arwe’s body of work can be found at www.arwe.art.