Exhibition: 17 Feb – 31 Mar 2018
THE RAVESTIJN GALLERY
1013 BX Amsterdam
Mon-Fri 9-17, Sat 12-17
The Dutch duo, Carmen Freudenthal and Elle Verhagen, continue their collaboration of almost three decades with a series of new work, in which they further explore the boundaries of photography and the possibilities for the creation of visual illusions. Known for their unique visual language and their pioneering approach towards the medium of photography, The Ravestijn Gallery is proud to present their second solo show ‘Absorptions’.
Whereas the anecdotical has always been a strong component in many of their past work, with ‘Absorptions’ Freudenthal/Verhagen move into a direction of further dismantling any kind of narrative. At the same time the show consists of highly evocative images that absorb the viewer, inviting her or him into a world that is at once tactile, within reach and very much here, yet never losing any of its mystery, refraining from disclosing all of its layered connections at once.
One of the inspirations for ‘Absorptions’ are the sketches and studies for paintings of the old masters like Rembrandt, on which some details of the body are already drawn out in perfection, whereas other surfaces are left empty or vague. In a time where there is much emphasis on having a perfect body, Freudenthal/Verhagen sought ways to both deform and enhance the human body in all of its imperfections, resulting in images wherein body parts are either masked or brought to an alluring light, subtly making the weight of human existence palpable. References to both cutting-edge fashion photography and art historical predecessors like Dada and Surrealism, and even the appealing and estranging carcasses of Chaim Soutine come to mind.
While the glossy and attractive, very aesthetic images draw the viewer in, they nevertheless have a reticent quality about them and a sense of wonder goes hand in hand with uneasiness, when stepping into Freudenthal/Verhagen’s enchanting and uncanny universe. With the careful process of interventions with other materials into the original, staged pictures taken in their studio, each work is rendered unique. The images are printed onto fabrics like silk and cotton and treated with rubber, epoxy and lacquer before becoming installations that are alternately sticky and smooth. The materials break out from the flat surface of the image and interfere with the three-dimensional space of the gallery. Seemingly obfuscated in the form of tangible objects, because each work still starts from a photograph, however tentative, a kernel of the real is discernible in every work.