Hendrik Kerstens’s life-time project of photographing his daughter ‘Paula’ as a reminiscent of the portraits from the Dutch Golden Age, in a way of expressing his paternal love and in a conceptual and humorous dialog between the daily life in the 17th and in 21st century.
It’s all started in 1995 when Hendrik Kerstens, then at the age of forty, willing to devote himself to a more creative profession, left the business world and took up photography. His wife now had to support the family, whilst Kerstens stay home learning the craft and taking care for their child. For practicing to capture the fleeting moments of childhood, he started with documentary family snapshots, when suddenly he saw his muse from a different perspective.
“One day Paula came back from horseback riding. She took off her cap and I was struck by the image of her hair held together by a hair-net. It reminded me of the portraits by the Dutch masters and I portrayed her in that fashion. After that I started to do more portraits in which I refer to the paintings of that era. The thing that fascinates me in particular is the way a 17th century painting is seen as a surface which can be read as a description of everyday life as opposed to the paintings of the Italian renaissance, which usually tell a story. Northern European painting relies much more on craftsmanship and the perfect rendition of the subject. The use of light is instrumental in this.”
The portraits are published in a book ‘Paula: Silent Conversations’.