In the late summer of 2015 I met Kees in Kamerik, a little village in the Green Heart of Holland. He intrigued me with his bright blue eyes, cowboy style and American classic car.
I had never seen a cowboy in Holland before and wondered who this man was. It was only after five years that I found out why Kees had ended up here. His reclusive lifestyle, simple and surrounded by nature, was not so much out of idealism, but out of necessity.
When at some point Kees had lost nearly everything dear to him in his life, he realized that the most basic and essential thing we have here on earth couldn’t be taken away from him; nature. Inspired by the old cowboy culture, he built up his new life. Simple, free and with respect for all living creatures on earth. It was the tranquility of nature that gave Kees the space to breathe again.
He taught me that being a cowboy is not only about wearing a cool hat and leather boots, it’s about the lifestyle that it represents. We need cowboys like Kees to bring us back to the simplicity of what life really is about. Kees has become my natural self-help book in our modern society and he might just become yours too.
The Cowboy Kees photobook.
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Graduation show at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, August 2020.