The Museum of Photographic Arts MOPA in San Diego California, exhibits ‘Beauty and the Beast: the animal in photography’, from May 28 until October 9, showcasing several Dutch designers knowing, Marie Cécile Thijs, Ruud van Empel, Hendrik Kerstens en Hellen van Meene. Beauty and the Beast presents an examination of animals in photography in celebration of the San Diego Zoo Centennial. Showcasing a diverse range of photographers, the exhibition highlights the many ways animals are featured from portraits to supporting subjects. Along with them, 45 photographers are part of the exhibition to celebrate the 100 anniversary of the San Diego Zoo. The Mopa partnered with Balboa Park, The San Diego Zoo, The San Diego Museum of Art, Timken Museum of Art, and San Diego National History Museum, and showcase thematical exhibitions as ‘Part of the pride’.
Marie Cécile Thijs is an artist with a distinctive signature. Her portraits are still lifes, and her still lifes become portraits. She is influenced by the old masters in painting, yet her work is clearly contemporary. Stillness is key. Marie Cécile Thijs, originally a lawyer, decided more than fifteen years ago to follow her love for the camera. She is specialised in staged photography, and created the series White Collar, Food Portraits, Cooks, Horses and Human Angels, which are still in progress to this day. She also made many portraits of writers, politicians, designers and artists. Most recent she made still life series Asia > Amsterdam in cooperation with Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and EU 2016 Mementos in assignment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Text retrieved from Marie’s personal site.
Artist Ruud van Empel (Breda, 1958) makes collages of self-made photos that he combines using Photoshop to create an idealized representation. In fact, with familiar elements he presents a world with which we are not acquainted. We have only the image that is dished up to us by Van Empel in the minutest detail. You could perhaps refer to this work as ‘illusionary’ but, at the same time, his images have an unparalleled reality content. Nevertheless, you never encounter anything like this in real life. These unheard and unseen features make them delusionary. This apparent conflict determines the quality of his work and its appreciation to a large extent. In Van Empel’s work, illusion is a paradox.’
Hendrik Kerstens is a Dutch photographer who, since 1995, has been photographing his daughter Paula. He was born in 1956 in the Hague, the Netherlands and is a self-taught artist. He began a series of photographing his daughter’s life, initially capturing her in everyday poses and attire, documenting intimate moments where she appears looking pensive in a swimsuit, or clutching herself after a bad sunburn. Kerstens gradually expanded his practice to create carefully composed portraits that playfully refer to the works of the Dutch Old Masters and the Italian Renaissance. These images use everyday items as props, such as a dishtowel or cream standing in for a maiden’s cloth and wig, and still rely on Paula as his primary subject. His photography was awarded a Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize from the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2008, and has been shown in Europe, Latin America, and the United States. He was given his first solo exhibition in the United States at the Museum for the City of New York in 2009, and he has since been commissioned for several covers of New York Times Magazine. He lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Artist Hellen van Meene (Alkmaar, Netherlands, 1972) is known for her (mostly) square photographic portraits of teenage girls. Her work was first exhibited in 1996 and has been shown around the world since then. Her photos are in the collection of many museums, incl. Guggenheim NYC & MoMA. She lives and works in Heiloo and her subjects now include still lifes, dogs and other animals. She is represented by galleries in New York and Tokyo.
MOPA is a Museum of Photographic Arts, and sees it as their mission to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film, and video.