Amsterdam based photographer Neeltje de Vries is 'hanging' in MASTERS Gallery this week. With her extraordinary images, Neeltje touches the viewer and creates a story where the thin line between emotion and power is visible.

Text: Larissa Schaule Jullens
Image: Neeltje de Vries


Fluid' is, I think, an image that characterizes my work well. In an image I look for friction, friction. Eye-catching aesthetics and something that makes it falter, wring. For me, green flowers enhance the sense of mystery. Spherical without feeling heavy. You see these shades a lot in my work. Her skin and posture make her seem almost like rubber as she bends over the armchair. That in contrast with the angular straight lines in the background works very well for me. Images come into being for me even before I have shot them. In daily life. Looking at everything that happens around me. It can even be that when I'm cycling past the garbage in Amsterdam on a rainy day, that I see an object, or a piece of material of whatever kind, lying there and an image immediately appears in my head. How many times have I stopped and driven back with my car to load stuff from the street into my car, because an image in passing immediately kept drawing me to it. Or dragged it along on the back of my bike to my studio. This chair, from the thrift store, is an example of that.


I love playing with framing. What it does to an image. But what if the framing is literally woven into the image. I play with this more often in my work. It's searching for the thin line between discomfort, credibility and pleasure. I was looking for the right kind of definition. That it is tangible. That's in both the narrowness of the walls I built in my studio for this image, and in the woman's pose. Before I photograph a model I always have to feel how a space or pose feels. This is also one of the reasons why I portray women in my free work. I have to feel what I want to translate into my image. I don't know what it's like to move like a man. It's about the little nuances. These I want to see in my images. A loose hand, how hair slides along your face. You name it. You could say that in most of the pictures I shoot, there is a part of self-portrait. That started when I was 6 years old and drew girls non-stop. And has actually never stopped. Only the medium has changed over the years.


I love it when images could have been a film still. That they have a story. When I look at her now, to me she is a woman with a story. Not the woman I was standing in front of with my camera. Hands are always important in my work. The way they move, you can translate so much emotion with them. The epic images that I shoot are generally the images that I love the longest. And they also hang on my wall at home. Where is she? Who is she? What is happening? I have my own perception about that. I want to intrigue the viewer, but actually even more myself. I can feel the water on her skin in this image. Her drenched hair. And precisely because of the cut-out it raises even more questions. I love the raw beauty in a woman. Unpolished. A portrait of an attractive woman captured only beautifully doesn't move me. Sure, I think the women I shoot are all beautiful, but each one of them has a raw edge. I find that much more interesting to work with than just their appearance.
Take a look at the website of Neeltje de Vries here.

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