Sunday, August 1, 2021

In Focus: Rineke Dijkstra | Marian Goodman Gallery

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Marian Goodman Gallery is pleased to continue our artist-centric newsletter IN FOCUS, where we take the time to delve deeply into one artist on the MGG roster at a time. Aiming to show a fuller picture of the breadth of our artists’ careers, we feature our favorite stories, podcasts, interviews, artists’ writings and videos from the archive, as well as new and upcoming projects.

Portrait of Rineke Dijkstra. Courtesy de Volkskrant.
Portrait of Rineke Dijkstra. Courtesy de Volkskrant.

Since the early 1990s, Rineke Dijkstra (b. 1959 in Sittard, The Netherlands) has produced a complex body of photographic and video work, offering a contemporary take on the genre of portraiture. Throughout her career, Dijkstra has relied on the inherent temporality of photography to explore the changeability of the human condition. By limiting contextual information and focusing on subtle details, such as posture and gaze, Dijkstra encourages the viewer to look closely at her subjects. Dijkstra’s portraits capture people in transitional moments: her Mothers series captures the exhaustion and tenderness in a woman’s face after she gives birth, the Bullfighters series examines the physical toll and defiant expressions found on the matadors’ faces after leaving the ring, her Park Portraits show us a series of schoolchildren and adolescents in activity and repose, engaged in daily life, and her Family Portrait series, where young siblings are depicted in their family homes, natural in front of the camera but aware that a portrait is being made. Dijkstra’s most recent video work, Night Watching (2019), features 14 different groups of people observing and speaking in front of Rembrandt’s large iconic painting The Night Watch (1642). By reflecting on the people in the painting, each group gives us an impression of their own dynamics.

‘Every time I make a portrait, I see it as an encounter. I never have a fixed plan before I start; I work from observation and like to improvise. When I include a setting the surroundings/environs, I always try to limit myself to a minimum of information. By leaving out much of the setting, I draw more attention to other things: the posture, the look in the eyes, a gaze or a gesture. By freezing time, you intensify the moment, and with it the significance of who the person is.’
 – Rineke Dijkstra, 2020

In advance of the re-opening of Rineke’s exhibition at MGG London on Tuesday 16 June, follow along as we explore her varied practices and inspirations. ?

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