Artsy Insight: Hendrik Kerstens, Decidedly Dutch

A virtuoso of chiaroscuroJohannes Vermeer developed an inimitable scheme of shadow and light among moody, quotidian atmospheres. Not easily forgotten, perhaps it was the expressive gazes of Vermeer’s subjects, caught in fleeting moments within their homes, that inspired Hendrik Kerstens to photograph his daughter, Paula, with the Dutch master in mind:

“One day Paula came back from horseback riding. She took off her cap and I was struck by the image of her hair held together by a hair-net. It reminded me of the portraits by the Dutch Masters and I portrayed her in that fashion. After that I started to do more portraits in which I refer to the paintings of that era. The thing that fascinates me in particular is the way a seventeenth-century painting is seen as a surface which can be read as a description of everyday life as opposed to the paintings of the Italian Renaissance, which usually tell a story. Northern European painting relies much more on craftsmanship and the perfect rendition of the subject. The use of light is instrumental in this.”