Indepth Arts News: |
"Hellen van Meene Shows New Works"
2006-03-22 until 2006-05-14
Pump House Gallery
UK United Kingdom
This will be the first major solo presentation of work in London by Dutch
photographer Hellen van Meene since 1999. Known for her intimate fictional
portraiture of adolescent girls and androgynous boys, which blur the line
between fact and fiction, Pump House Gallery has commissioned van Meene to
make new works in London, which will be shown alongside recent works made in
Japan, Russia, Germany, Latvia and Holland.
In recent years, van Meene has increasingly moved from working with familiar
models in her hometown in Holland, to working overseas and spontaneously
with strangers. She does not see her work as portraiture but as creating a
mood and exploring "adolescent situations and attitudes, which represent the
type of 'normality' we don't usually share with others, but keep to
ourselves" (the artist). She is drawn to what has been termed 'eccentric but
captivating detail'; light falling on the hairs on an arm, a bruise or hair
tangled in branches.
Her fascination with the grace and awkwardness that are the physical and
psychological hallmarks of this age is developed in her newly commissioned
work made with young people and teenage parents in South West London. Here
van Meene delves into the territory of socially engaged documentary and a
sense of her subjects being caught or confined between two lives is
apparent. In common with earlier works more sensual and painterly qualities
emerge: the subject's "state of peculiar absorption" and the invocation of
historical painted portraiture (Vermeer, Rossetti, Manet).
Van Meene approaches and disturbs the problems inherent in the relationship
between the photographer and the subject in a deliberate and productive way.
Though rooted in documentary territory, her work remains closer in feel to
Francesca Woodman than to Diane Arbus, combining documentary language with
elements of fantasy, performance and psychological space to create a
powerful and beguiling concoction
Van Meene was born in Alkmaar, Holland in 1972. She has already received
international critical acclaim and has shown in numerous group and solo
shows internationally. Since a solo showing in 1999 at The Photographers
Gallery, van Meene she has shown work extensively including in The Citibank
Private Bank Photography Prize 2000 at The Photographers Gallery.
The exhibition is accompanied by a public programme including Hellen van
Meene in conversation with Curator Susie Gray, a seminar event exploring
issues around contemporary portrait photography and consent at the National
Portrait Gallery on 6th May, family workshops and a teenage parents photo
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