Satijn Panyigay

Satijn Panyigay (b. 1988, Nijmegen) is a half Dutch, half Hungarian photographer. Her work has a clear style and specific themes. Panyigay handles subjects like transience, emptiness and solitude. She has a fascination for the dark side of life and with her aesthetic eye, she shows us there’s also beauty to be found in the grim and dark.

Her newest series Twilight Zone — Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is part of a larger project in which Satijn Panyigay is capturing the character of the empty exhibition spaces of leading Dutch museums that display contemporary art by photographing between the shows. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam) has recently closed its doors for a long-term, large-scale renovation. Satijn Panyigay was allowed to take her time to capture the uncovered museum’s essence at a very special moment – a twilight zone between the museum’s closure and the start of the rebuilding, a state that no one sees. The museum walls, stripped of all the icons, got caught on camera as an object, losing their dominant role of a background that accommodates art.

The rooms of Boijmans Van Beuningen have a recognizable architecture. Its spaces where icons of art can normally be seen are now empty, pending. The walls, floors, ceilings, colors, the incidence of light and traces of the previous exhibitions fill in the blanks of the museum’s identity. The empty rooms get to become the artwork. Work from this series, in absence of any direct human narratives, is surprisingly humane – she addresses the feelings of its observer.

Satijn Panyigay makes photographic work that invites its viewer to slow down. She captures the silence of empty spaces and, staging it as a photograph, aims to unveil the layer underneath. Working with uninhabited grounds, Panyigay searches for presence in a seeming emptiness.

The previous series (Living) room shows the living room of a young art collector and his girlfriend, destroyed by a fire. With the charcoal walls and the details on them, Panyigay constructed new spaces in her photography in which the eye easily loses orientation. It resonates with the feeling that the house owner had when he woke up in the middle of the night because of the heat and got fully disoriented by smoke. Panic and oppression, but also detached from life and reality. In this series, Panyigay reflects on loss, decay, and the transience of time.

The melancholic photo series Behind Death’s Door shows the houses of recently deceased people of whom the relatives chose a specialized company to clear out their homes. Panyigay went along several times to investigate death more. The photos are hermetic, there is no contact with the outside world, which results in an oppressive atmosphere of loneliness and nostalgia. This also applies to her photo series, Melankólia. For this project, she went searching for her roots in the country her father originates from, Hungary.

Satijn Panyigay (1988) lives and works in Utrecht. She has participated in exhibitions at, amongst others, Fotomuseum Den Haag, Museum Tot Zover (Amsterdam), Villa Mondriaan (Winterswijk), and art fairs such as Art Rotterdam, Unseen Photo Fair, PAN Amsterdam and Amsterdam Art Fair. Her first solo-exhibition was Paradise|wasteland at Van Krimpen Gallery (Amsterdam) in 2012, in 2019 she exhibited (Living) room, a solo show at Galerie Caroline O’Breen.

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