Hellen van Meene’s Photographs Capture the Awkward Elegance of Youth
"Faces Now: European Portrait Photography Since 1990"
Venue: Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR), Brussels (2015)
In her light- and color-saturated photographs, Hellen van Meene captures adolescents in portraits at once elegant and awkward, effectively revealing the dignity and vulnerability of this tender time of life. Though she has made portraits of boys, she focuses on young women and adolescent girls, subjects she understands intimately. Always shooting in natural light and outside of the studio, van Meene works both close to home, with models she has known for years, and around the world, with unconventional-looking young people she discovers. Her photographs recall 17th-century Dutch paintings, with their exquisite, jewel-like details and glowing, light-washed quality. She approaches her subjects as if they were objects, carefully dressing and posing them, then allowing chance to intervene. As she describes: “In essence, it is about being open to images that are already there, regardless of your choreography or staging.”
Dutch, b. 1972, Alkmaar, Netherlands