Simple, eloquent, resonant, complex, fun- all these terms describe the photographs of Dutch photographer Hendrik Kerstens. Whenever I find myself looking at his work, which is often, I am constantly finding new things to enjoy and appreciate. This photograph of his daughter Paula, whom he photographs a lot, is a good case in point. Technically, the image is brilliant. Well lit, well posed, everything about the way it was set up and shot supports the concept. Anyone familiar with Dutch portrait painting of the 17th century will appreciate the connection he makes to art of that era. At the same time, it is totally contemporary in its use of the plastic shopping bag instead of some kind of fabric, and a simple turtleneck instead of a satin dress.
Another image of Paula finds her in a quite different getup, although the pose, background, and lighting are similar. It would be easy for her to look ridiculous, but she doesn't. I find great humor in Kersten's approach to photography, and love the fresh, crisp look and feel that his images possess. They ask me to consider the relationship of photography to painting, and to think about how photographs can transform everyday objects into something metaphorical. Kerstens doesn't try to hide anything in these photographs and revels in making the ordinary extraordinary.