‘The way I see it’ the first large solo exhibition of Pieter Henket
In 2008 Pieter Henket made a photo of pop star Lady Gaga that was also used for the cover of her debut album. It marked Henket’s breakthrough as an internationally recog-nized glamour photographer. In 2010 the photograph was exhibited as an icon of the 21st century in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the city where he arrived in 1998 as a 19-year old to take up studies at the Film Academy. However, at the end of the day it was not the film camera but the photo camera that brought him worldwide success. This spring the first large solo exhibition of Henket’s photographic work will be on view in ‘The EYE’, the new superstructure of the Museum de Fundatie.
On occasion Henket is compared with Anton Corbijn. Not so much for the photographs themselves, which emanate an entirely different atmosphere, but rather for his iconic meaning for the world of glitter and glam-our. In the same way that Corbijn managed to capture the essence of the nineties with his famous photo-graphs of U2 and other stars, Henket creates the typical character of the era of today’s celebrities. It is their world that Henket feels attracted to as an artist and with which he has become inextricably linked over the years. By his own account he could not have realized his ambition in any other place than the Big Apple: “When you go to New York with a dream, the city will give you all the room you need. My reality is even bigger now than my dream ever was.”
His photos featured in renowned magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and Vogue. Showbizz celebri-ties sat for him, e.g., the actresses Mary-Kate Olsen and Kristen Stewart, rapper Nelly, porn star Sacha Gray and actor Sir Ben Kingsley. But for all that he has not forgotten his native country, which appears from the fact that he portrayed his favourite Gold Calf winners at the 2011 Dutch Film Festival. The status of many of his models surely contribute to the magical allure of his photographs, but he is equally inspired by anony-mous models. Pieter Henket can make anyone look like a sexy celebrity. Whether it is a portrait, fashion photos or an erotic scene, through Henket’s lens everything looks just that bit more beautiful and exciting than in the often humdrum reality.
Pieter Henket is not a photographer who ‘captures reality’. In a time when every cellphone is also a camera that you can use to record life by just pressing a button, Henket has specialized in manipulating reality. Henket directs and stage-manages. In this way he manages to remain true to his first love: filming. The exhibition in the Museum de Fundatie illustrates this theme by means of his ‘Interrogation Project’ and the film project ‘The Wait’. The ‘Interrogation Project’ is a series of photos for which he invited well-known ac-tors and actresses to pose for him. He then quasi-accused them of crimes they had not committed and in this way the different reactions to the accusations became a sampling of human emotion. With ‘The Wait’, especially made for this exhibition, he translated the same theme into moving video images. From a fixed camera angle he filmed eight Dutch top actors such as Halina Reijn, Tygo Gernandt and Arjan Ederveen, who are awaiting the return of their interrogators to their bare and chilly police cell during two long hours. The videos are shown simultaneously on huge screens, thus letting the visitor share in the interrogations.
The cinematic character of his photographs is just one jigsaw piece in the larger whole of Henket’s universe. By the stylization of his subjects, combined with the way he mixes light and colour in his pictures, Henket moves in the field of painting at the same time. In doing so he subtly refers to the Dutch masters of the 17th century, with whom he is perfectly familiar being a native Dutchman. With his oeuvre, however small as yet, he demonstrates that by removing the traditional boundaries between the art disciplines an artist’s opportunities are increasing disproportionately and that his work can therefore appeal to the imagination of a hitherto unprecedentedly wide audience.
On the occasion of the exhibition a book of photographs about Pieter Henket’s work, with an introductory text by Els Quaegebeur and designed by Paul Boudens, is published by Uitgeverij De Kunst.
Pieter Henket – The way I see it
1 June to 17 November 2013
Paleis a/d Blijmarkt, Blijmarkt 20, 8011 NE Zwolle
Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays
www.museumdefundatie.nl or (+31) (0)572 388188