Studio visit #11. Jenny Ymker

Some days ago i visited Jenny Ymker (1969) in her studio in Tilburg, the city where I also saw her works for the first time in a group exhibition at PARK.

As i didn’t know her work, it caused a bit of a shock, the wonderful shock of seeing something unexpected and interesting.

Staged photography is the basis of her art, in which she is always the only protagonist.

It can be either an idea or a place – more often the combination of the two – that inspires her, but her photo’s are always real situations; there is never an artificial backdrop.

Even if it means she has to stand in the snow without a winter coat in freezing temperatures, or in other peculiar circumstances.

She showed me an attic full of props she uses for the pictures.

She’s very picky about clothes, shoes, handbags etc. as they must give the right and unique impression of the character in the picture.

On the other hand the protagonist in the picture should also be more or less timeless, free from too much connotations of the present or the past.

We talked a lot about the making of art, the development of ideas and concepts and – of course – about technique.

Some of her compositions are made as models for tapestries, in which, after having them woven, she sometimes embroiders certain parts to give them extra accents.

Weaving needs a lot of extra thought, as it can only be done with a maximum of twelve colours.

So certain colour nuances have to be made in a more or less pointillist technique.

The results are however extraordinary as the tapestries are quite monumental, and there is no raking light, like there would be on paintings or photographs. The colours of the tapestries are totally absorbing.

Of course, Ymker also makes pictures that are not really suitable for a tapestry, but which work very well in a light-box (see picture above).

She also experiments with video, not to make works with a lot of movement or with a story, but just to make slowly moving pictures (see pictures above).

Over all, her works combine a sense of humour and a sense of loneliness.

Because these two fall together so perfectly well in her works, i probably had this shock when seeing them for the first time.

It is a bit strange that her works are usually not shown in the context of photography, especially because she uses such a big potential of photographic possibilities, including printing and projection.

Time passed quickly that afternoon as we discussed a lot, also about all kinds of aspects of being an artist today.

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© Villa Next Door 2021

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Jenny Ymker

Bertus Pieters


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