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Light in Its Own Language presents AMANDA MEANS, a celebrated NY photographer, in her first show in Amsterdam and BEPPIE GIELKENS, a Dutch painter, with her prescient recent works. Both take on light as their subject matter and offer a new articulation of how it functions in art, what it can mean for art, and what art can convey by capturing light.

Amanda Means is known for her black-and-white gelatin silver prints of palpable materiality. Capturing luminosity by her masterful light projections (physically shining light on the development paper), matched by the quality of her printing technique, her work series give a photographic identity to light in its relation to non-light. With the reversal of the light and dark of the image, her exquisite prints shift our attention to what is out of sight. This is especially captivating in her series of everyday objects, such as the lightbulbs and water glasses with bubbles and ice on view at TMH.

Beppie Gielkens traveled from the Dutch north as far as Egypt to find the darkest night sky and the most intense, fiery sensation of color by day. These types of colors defined the enigmatic figures of her earlier work that captures the splendor of ancient artifacts and their repercussions in ordinary objects. As she removes figuration in her recent paintings, her colors retain this pictorial order but end up more finely elaborated. Captured in repeated oblique lines and forms, they become dynamic and life-like. No less than the photo prints of Means, Gielkens’s paintings at TMH surprise by their emotive content and suggestions of associative imagery.

The work of Means is essentially photomechanical and that of Gielkens hand-painted. But contrary to endorsing these established classifications, the joint exhibition brings out a different insight: in the practice of both, there is an important emphasis on the role of light in relation to seriality as an artistic strategy. Instead of deriding redundancy or overabundance, which motivated Pop Art, or extolling uniqueness, which defined Expressionist fine art, Means and Gielkens use repeated forms to accentuate small differences in appearance. They draw attention to an irrevocable part of the ordinary in the special and the treasured, and trace what might otherwise perish. By capturing the magic effect of light in the poetic effect of their art, Gielkens and Means say something poignant and timely: their celebration of light becomes a reflection on the ways of, and a reminder of the need for, remembering and safeguarding.

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