Viviane Sassen in Hamburg


Viviane Sassen, Lemogang, 2013 C-print, 114 x 75 cm © Viviane Sassen

Her photographs undoubtedly are high art, yet somewhat distressing, her approach to her highly acclaimed fashion work is refreshingly revolutionary. She can be seen as absolute Avantgarde in the photography scene of today.
Now, in UMBRA, first shown at the Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam, Viviane Sassen focuses on a common theme in her photographs: Shadow.
Recalling three years of her childhood spent in a village in the remote west of Kenya, dutch-born artist Sassen told the Guardian about her inspiration and vision: "Bright sunlight, dark shadows, the market with dead sheep hanging upside down with their tongues out, the other children who always wanted to touch my face and hair, the pure darkness that fell on the village at night.“ - obviously the 46-year-old photographer has consequently stayed on her main theme since then.
Viviane Sassen first became known through her enthralling colour photos in which form and content balance at the edge of abstraction.
In UMBRA she leads us through a series of thought-provoking and mind-numbing takes on the concept—shadow, the ultimate metaphor for anxiety and desire; as a secret symbol of both memory and hope for the future; and as an utter evocation of vivid imagination and illusion. Sassen’s work is renowned for its radical interplay between stark realism and total abstraction. Here that characteristic emerges in the dramatic yet subtle use of light, shadow and color, as well as the  determined cropping of images and interventions on the prints.
In the tradition of major classical-artistic themes the human figure, the body and the pose predominate in her work. Her intricate play with realism and abstraction, which confuses our perception and leaves meanings open, is modern to the core, an emphasize of the rather spectacular and slightly poetic aspects of her work.

The accompanying book UMBRA is published by Prestel.

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