Hellen Van Meene’s portraits of feminine youth float in a realm between fragility and power. The faces of each subject are the complete focal point of each square frame, supported by minimal locations and pastel walls. Today, these backgrounds may be commonly seen in contemporary portraiture but seem stylistically ahead of the game at the time that much Van Meene’s earlier work was created.
Additional visual interest lies in her ability to highlight memorable characteristics about each person. As explained to Pop Magazine, “I am mainly concerned with things such as the lightfall on a white skin, bruises on an arm, hands which disfigure in water, and starting goose-pimples in frosty weather. Only then you see the texture of the skin so beautifully. It is exciting to see what happens when you put a leg over a horizontal bar or when you hang a person’s hair in a bush… I arrange everything, to the smallest detail, such as the nail polish on their fingers.”
Born in 1972, Hellen Van Meene studied photography in Amsterdam and Scotland, and now lives in Helioo, Netherlands. Several books featuring her work can be found on her site.
Text by Linnea Stephan