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Solo exhibition: Hellen van Meene

Yancey Richardson Gallery
535 West 22nd Street, NYC 10011, NY, USA
February 2 - March 17 2007

Reception for the artist: Thursday, February 1st 6-8 p.m.

The Yancey Richardson Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new photographs by Dutch photographer Hellen van Meene. Known for her intimate, intense portraits of adolescent girls and androgynous boys, this is van Meene's first exhibition in the United States since 2001. These recent portraits are primarily the result of travels to Latvia, Russia, London, Japan and Morocco between 2004 and 2006. A survey of recent work by the artist is currently on view at the Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany and in November 2006, Schirmer/Mosel published the monograph New Work. In addition, van Meene is featured in the exhibition Family Pictures, opening February 2007 at the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Having previously worked with models she knew, van Meene's recent work was made with strangers, primarily in their own environments: students at their school in St. Petersburg, teenage mothers at home in London, Tokyo youth on the street, and girls in a village plaza in Morocco. Acknowledging the transformative potential of photography, van Meene has described her subjects as the raw material for her own creations, stating in a 2002 interview for the Museum of Contemporary Photography catalog, "I look for a certain mood in which the girls almost figure as actors. As a matter of fact, I treat my models as objects which you can direct and guide." The current work is less fictionalized and more direct than previously, evidencing less of the performance quality of her earlier portraits. The models are now placed against flat planes of color in unadorned environments and without props. The photographs are nonetheless filled with closely observed details and subtle, expressive gestures, many of which Van Meene has added or directed. Intimately scaled (12 x 12 or 16 x 16 inches) and pressed close to the picture plane, van Meene's portraits invite and reward scrutiny at close range.

Born in Alkmaar, Holland in 1972, van Meene has exhibited internationally and her work is held in the collections of major museums including the Stedelijk Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, MoCA Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2001 she was nominated for the Citibank Photography Prize. Previous publications include Hellen van Meene: Portraits (Aperture, 2004) and Hellen van Meene: Japan Series (The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago and De Hallen, Haarlem, the Netherlands, 2002).