Painting with a Lens – Marie-Jeanne van Hövell tot Westerflier

The exhibition Painting with a Lens in Museum JAN provides an overview of the rich and diverse photographic oeuvre which Marie-Jeanne van Hövell tot Westerflier (1953) has created over the past 25 years. Van Hövell tot Westerflier is a master of photographic stillness and natural light. Her portraits and still lifes are reminiscent of famous Dutch painters such as Johannes Vermeer and Clara Peeters, while her cityscapes invoke memories of the photography of George Hendrik Breitner and Jacob Olie. ‘Painting with a lens’ is a technique she masters like no one else. She creates unique photographic images that transform the present into the past. Her work will be shown in its full breadth for the first time.

Marie-Jeanne van Hövell tot Westerflier
When Van Hövell tot Westerflier borrowed an analogue Hasselblad camera in 1998, the budding photographer was immediately spellbound. The size and sharpness of the camera and artistry that it demands have for the past 25 years inspired her to capture recognisable scenes and people. Van Hövell prefers using natural light only and therefore always waits for the right moment to immortalize her subject. When a painter is not satisfied with any details, it is always possible to change or correct them with a brush. The lens, however, is relentless: it does not allow any corrections, at least not for Van Hövell, for whom Photoshop is out of the question. She records a reality that only she knows and is able to visualise.

Stillness and restraint
The exhibition in Museum JAN shows eight different series of photographs, in which stillness and restraint form the common theme, such as The Quiet City and Contemplation. The ingredients for this latter series are objects from her own home – flowers, fruits and sometimes a dead insect – resulting in a photo series that betrays admiration for Dutch 17th-century painting. For The Quiet City, made during the Covid lockdowns, she to some extent arranged the architectural ingredients of the buildings by the way she chooses her point of view and makes use of the available light. Her series At The Window evokes associations with the work of the 17th-century painter Johannes Vermeer. In her portrait photography and the series The White Blouse she manages to capture the soul of her subjects.

Painting with a Lens – Marie-Jeanne van Hövell tot Westerflier
23 June to 24 September

Museum JAN
Dorpstraat 50,
1182 JE Amstelveen