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What is Beauty? What defines or justifies the canons of beauty? This is the question that the Dutch artist Justine Tjallinks (born in 1984) asks with great audacity. Her weapon? The beauty of the image and the perfection of the plastic rendering through, in particular, the optimum use of light. Her favorite theme? Singularity. Her medium? Hybridized photography, retouched with a digital brush. 

Justine Tjallinks, Vision, série « Jeweled », 2016 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER
Justine Tjallinks. La Trahison des images, Vision future, 2017 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER
Justine Tjallinks, _Empowerment, série « Modern Times », 2017 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER

Giving her photographs a quasi-pictorial aspect, this meticulous process of digital retouching gives the images a strange ambiguity: hybridizing the real and the virtual, they disturb our hesitant gaze, not knowing which world to hold on to. Similarly, it is to better counteract them that the artist, with a virtuosity not devoid of perfidy, counterfeits the models of art history, from ancient painting – and more particularly portraits of the Dutch Golden Age – to Magic Realism. 

Justine Tjallinks, Sandra I, série « Surfaces », 2018 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER
Justine Tjallinks, Sandra I, série « Surfaces », 2018 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER
Justine Tjallinks, Trixie I, série « Surfaces », 2018 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER

While the process – illustrated, notably, by Frank Horvat in the 1980s – is not new, it hits the mark. By replaying the scene from Vermeer’s Letter, Justine Tjallinks skillfully plays with mimicry (posture, colors, décor, etc.) and anachronism (through the almost futuristic modernity of the hairstyle and fabrics) to create a collision of past and present. Evoking in turn the Dutch interiors of a Ter Boch or a Van Hoogstraten, the portraits of Anton van Dyck or Frans Hals, while interpenetrating temporalities (in the Modern times and Passé series in particular), the artist surreptitiously brings out the abnormal. Thus, the deformity of the faces of children with Down’s syndrome (The Leftovers), which is both disturbing and endearing, or albinism, to which the artist devoted a luminous series, Jeweled, in 2016, succeeding in turning this anomaly into a magical attribute…  

Justine Tjallinks, Oscuro, 2019 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER
Justine Tjallinks, Revasser, série « La Trahison des Images », 2017 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER
Justine Tjallinks, Anke I, série « Surfaces », 2018 © Galerie Sophie SCHEIDECKER

If her aim is to show the beauty of difference, this is what she also achieves in her series Surfaces, which brings out the truth beneath the mask by upsetting aesthetic norms through the exaltation of “imperfections,” alterations, and other peculiarities highlighted by contrasting effects of brilliance and mattness that are technically breathtaking. A salutary betrayal of images, just like in the eponymous series showing the troubling plasticity of black skin…

Stéphanie Dulout

Until March 25th
Sophie Scheidecker Gallery
14 bis, rue des Minimes, Paris III