Maarten van Schaik, Jitske Schols
June 7 - July 22
Opening on Thursday June 7, 5 - 8 PM
From June 7 until July 22, Galerie Caroline O’Breen presents a duo exhibition by Maarten van Schaik and Jitske Schols. For both artists, the concept of memory and intuition plays an important role in their artistic expressions. Maarten van Schaik plays with the idea of anonymity and abandonment in his series Anonymous Contacts. His work is about intuition and alienation, but also about surrender. In the series Songs for soprano, etude #1, Jitske Schols tries to capture a certain feeling of duality she experience when reflecting on her past. She went back to the place she grew up and had a happy and peaceful time as a child, not being aware the same place formed the backdrop for a huge tragedy which happened a century earlier.
Maarten van Schaik – Anonymous Contacts
For Maarten van Schaik, intuition is the key to his creations. He defines intuition as the moment when emotion and reason come together; something elusive arises without asking for explanation. Van Schaik searches for enigmatic and puzzling images, together forming an inexplicable, cinematic story.
“I’m fascinated by the concept of anonymity and abandonment. I am moving through the world, hoping for anonymity, hoping I am able to humble myself enough to see and record what others – preoccupied with their hectic everyday lives – won’t see. As is the case in most of my work, I am not interested in pure registration or a factual approach of the things I am photographing. The objects and subjects which I photograph remain veiled. They are part of a world in which the distinction between dream and reality is not stable; time has become diffuse.”
In his series Anonymous Contacts, Maarten van Schaik combines new photographic works with images from his archives. In this way, he explores the interfaces within his oeuvre. He noticed that he’s always been fascinated by a certain silence, anonymity and desolation. The colors he uses enhance this; they are lively but at the same time accomplish stillness and a feeling of alienation. He takes the spectator to an other reality; an eccentric world hidden underneath the surface of the ‘real world’.
Jitske Schols – Songs for soprano, etude #1
In the photo series Songs for soprano, etude #1, Jitske Schols makes an imaginary journey back to the 19th century and visits the estate of Ewijckshoeve in Lage Vuursche. Schols grew up at this estate and enjoyed a happy and peaceful youth surrounded by nature, not being aware that this place formed the backdrop for a huge tragedy which happened a century earlier.
In 1889, the young woman Anna Witsen puts an end to her life by drowning herself in the pond of Ewijckshoeve. The estate was at that time owned by the aristocratic Witsen family. The famous etcher / painter / photographer Willem Witsen spent a lot of time there with his artist friends from the ‘Tachtigers’ movement. The death of his sister Anna Witsen did not leave him and his friends untouched. The incident can be found, directly and indirectly, in many artistic expressions from that time. The most famous is probably the poem by Herman Gorter. “In den zwarten nacht is een mensch aangetreden”:
In de zwarte nacht is een mensch aangetreden,
de zwarte nachtwolken vlogen,
de zwarte loofstammen bogen,
de wind ging zwaar in zwarte rouwkleeden.
‘t Gezicht was zoo bleek in ‘t zwarte haar,
de handen wrongen, de mond borg misbaar,
de nek was zwart,
een hel was ‘t hart,
van daar kwam het zwarte en worgde haar.
Met de wind, met de boomen en met al de wolken
is ze gekomen,
het waren rondom haar groote volken
van zwarte nachtdroomen.
But who was Anna, whose death touched many artists from that time? Schols became fascinated by this young lady and presumed that the basis for her self-chosen death may lie in the fact that she was not ‘seen’ by anyone. Not by her father, who thought she was hysterical. Not by the man she loved, who was married to someone else. And not as a professional singer, as her aristocratic state would not let her. In Schols’ imaginary journey, she encounters an enormous duality. She visited the site where the tragedy took place, but at the same time realized that this landscape is the same as where she had such a good time as a child. This ambiguous feeling resembles the work of Armando, who invented the idea of the ‘Schuldig Landschap’ (guilty landscape): a landscape that witnessed atrocities, mostly without leaving traces, and is thereby saddled with an indelible debt.
Jitske Schols’ work consists of landscapes and portraits, often in a distinctive black and white style, characterized by their contrast. Her sometimes abrasive portraits are often photographed at a serene or vulnerable moment and show the playful interaction that can occur between model and photographer. Her photos seem to refer to the black and white portraits of yesteryear, although all digitally shot. This idea of combining the old and new can also be found in the work of Willem Witsen, who as an etcher inspired Schols to use the printing technique Chine-colle for her series Songs for soprano, etude #1.
After working for 20 years as a communications advisor, Jitske Schols decided to commit herself to photography. In short time she built up an impressive oeuvre with an own unique signature: her portraits are mostly black and white and immediately recognizable by their combination of simplicity, melancholy and rawness.
Works by Jitske Schols was shown at the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam in the exhibition ‘Ode to an Amsterdammer’ organized by Dutch National Portrait Gallery and at the art gallery Vlieland Maritiem Art. In 2017 she won the Dutch National Portrait Prize for the best portrait of 2016. Het Parool, Volkskrant and AD belong to her regular customer base.