‘Not unseen’ shows work by no fewer than 4 photographers
La Cucaracha by Pieter Hugo – his latest body of work – is the result of four trips to Mexico over the last two years.
In the candid and direct manner that is Hugo’s signature style, intimate and at the same time powerful portraits of diverse subjects are depicted, including an asylum seeker on his way to the States, a young bride posing with an iguana (a symbol of patience, understanding and kindness in Mexico), and a portrait of Adelita, a police officer disguised as a sex-worker, but also an image of an older generation of Muxes (Zapotec culture’s ‘third gender’, who are male by birth but dress as and fulfil roles more associated with women).
With temperatures in Mexico rising to unprecedented levels and wildfires so widespread that the smoke from them was captured on Nasa satellite imagery last year, ‘Burning Bush’ evokes human failure.
La Cucaracha – a Mexican folksong that tells the tale of a five-legged cockroach – reflects the artist’s long-standing interest in how history and environment can shape a culture and those living within it.
Hellen van Meene
Hellen van Meene's own style is made special by the high degree of timelessness and mystery of her images and by her consistent use of natural light. Partly because of the determining role of light in her photos, but also because of the way in which she portrays the adolescent girls, she is sometimes compared to masters of painting: from Botticelli and Velázquez to the nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelites.
Van Meene finds her models, often young girls, in her immediate environment or she just talks to them on the street. It doesn't matter to her who the girl is or where she comes from. For that reason, she deliberately does not give her photos titles; there is no reference to the identity of the person portrayed. Her way of photographing gives the viewer a vague and alienating feeling and raises questions.
The photo is a moment directed by Van Meene, the person can look different the next day - especially when it concerns girls in an 'intermediate phase', the age on the threshold of adulthood. Time flies, aka The Years Shall Run Like Rabbits. What remains is a timeless image from which the viewer often cannot see whether the photo was taken at the start of Van Meene's career or in 2020.
An Other Another (2012-present) is an ongoing photographic series that blends painting with photography.
Benny Merris works on site in a variety of natural landscapes, making abstract paintings on his arm in the plein air tradition.
Once he has become attuned to a particular landscape after hours of observation, he photographs his painted arm during extended exploratory play. He uses color to blend in with or contrast natural surroundings in woodlands, oceans, deserts, waterfalls, rocks, and ponds.
The gradations and blocks of color on his body enter into a dialogue with a site. The relationships can be subtle like camouflage, while at other times raucous color celebrates the physical features, vegetation, light, and natural rhythms of these special places.
Taken together, they underscore his deep commitment to abstraction, mimesis, gesture and embodiment, and boundary breaking.
Gerco de Ruijter
Take a square piece of paper, wrap it around an orange and observe the tapering folds in the paper. If you want to cover the earth with straight lines, you can only do so if you outsmart the folds in the paper. The system has to be corrected in order to continue as though nothing has been corrected.
Thomas Jefferson's ‘Grid’ defined the road network in the USA. Because the earth is spherical, the grid had to be corrected every twenty-four miles.
Gerco de Ruijter collected these corrections in Google Earth: snowed under or dried out, in cities and deserts. The dynamic series of photos, entitled Grid Corrections forms a network in which form and image enter into a dialogue with each other.
Gerco de Ruijter portrays the world from points of view that deviate from our usual perspective. In his enigmatic and almost abstract landscapes, the human scale competes with nature, and recognition goes hand in hand with alienation. The traditional landscape image takes on a new dimension for him.