Persona January, 2nd 2020 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 245 - Monika Jordense-Michalski

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 245 – Monika Jordense-Michalski
When I visit Monika Jordense-Michalski, early September in Voorschoten, she is busy moving. There are packed boxes in the front room and the hall and in the kitchen, where we sit, there is all kinds of everything on the table.
The front room was her photo studio. There is a pulley left for a cloth that can be lowered as a background for portrait photography, on the left is a large portrait of Saskia, her model, with Saskia’s profile on the right in black and white. There are still a number of portraits in the windowsill. ‘Portrait-photo studio’ started in the autumn of 2009. Monika: “I photographed here, but I also did it on location.”

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Viva Frida!
Monika started as a photographer in the Leiden region. In 2006 her photos were shown daily on television in the Holland Centraal, TV-Journal program. “In 2008 I joined various news portals as a news / press event photographer. Around 2011 I started working for the Telegraaf Media Groep. I did that up to spring 2016. I also made photo reports of Islamic festivals. I was allowed to be there because I was a woman. “
But Monika is also an artist. She takes artistic photos and recently collages in photoshop. At the exhibition ‘Viva Frida!’ in the Go Gallery in Amsterdam on the occasion of Frida’s death day on July 13, she had an installation and some photo collages. Two of them were sold immediately.

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From Poland to France
Monika grew up at home with photography. “I was born in Poland and spent my childhood in France.” Her parents, Joseph Michalski and Maria Elsner-Michalski, are artists. “They also did photography. So did I. As a child my parents helped me in the dark room. I got my first camera when I was seven years old. In that time I made my first black and white portraits and photography with animals. Photography is something you have to learn, for example applying the light, developing, printing. Photography is therefore not just watching and printing, as happens a lot in digital photography. ”
When she was 15, Monika moved from Poland to France. After high school she went to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Digne-les-Bains and to the Art Academy in Annecy. She was inspired by Edvard Munch and got to know art photography there. She married a Dutchman and ended up in the Netherlands 35 years ago. For 27 years she lived in the village of Voorschoten, near Leiden. In addition, she regularly exhibited in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam, and also in Poland and France. Since 2007 she has participated in more than 25 solo and group exhibitions.

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The VKK, the Voorschoten Art Circle
In Voorschoten, she wanted to join the VKK artists’ association, the Voorschoten Art Circle (Voorschotense Kunstkring). “There was a ballot there. At first they said: you are a reportage photographer, that is not art.” But when she later showed her artistic studio portraits, she was immediately accepted. In 2017 the VKK existed for 50 years. On the occasion of this, a book was published in which, among other things, various photos of Monika. “I was inspired by Leiden painters, in particular by the work of Harm Kamerlingh Onnes. For example, I made a photo, à la Onnes, of a window full of porcelain figurines of cats, with which I ‘grabbed’ the daily, civilian atmosphere of Onnes in my way. In addition, there were also my portraits of famous people from Leiden such as Peter Labrujère. ”
One photo after the other comes by. “The first years in Voorschoten I was mainly concerned with the education of my two children, son Yves and daughter Saskia. Then photography became more of a hobby. But when they were a bit bigger, I started working again seriously. It was often said that the photos were far too artistic to end up in a photo album alone. My daughter liked it and so did her friends.” It is 2007. We see children in the swimming pool, a girl on a bench. A boy behind a tree, a boy at a table, all black and white. “I called the series ‘We are the Future of Europe’. Many children of expats were to be seen, who came from, for example, England, Germany, South Africa, Indonesia and France. “
The series was shown on June 1, 2008 on the occasion of International Children’s Day at the cultural institute Alliance Française in Katowice, Poland (Monika’s hometown), and also in France and the Netherlands.

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The Netherlands seen through my eyes
After the children’s project, ‘The Netherlands through my eyes’ followed. I see a dune lake, Dutch houses in the snow, a boy eating a herring, a mother with a cargo bike with two children, in the background a mill and a direction indicator, a DAF, a yellow train, a bicycle roundabout, windmills, a fair, young people with orange hair, a Leiden workers’ street with beautiful facades. “It was not only exhibited in Poland, but also in France. The visitors enjoyed watching it. For example, a cheese slicer is very common for Dutch people, but something special in Poland. “

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She also used the photos as an advertisement for her photo studio and for a window exhibition at the CultTV studio of Amsterdammer Evertjan Vonk, her current partner. She then continued at a rapid pace. It all comes by: a lady out of a mirror, a mysterious lady with a dog that looks like a fox, and more mysterious portraits. Photos from France, near Digne-les-Bains with her daughter among the black marl hills.
We walk to the front room for large photos with models that were later exhibited in the Outsider Art Gallery. “I had exhibitions at Cordaan in the OutsiderArt Gallery (at the Hermitage) on the occasion of the five-year existence of the gallery in 2014. On the photos, more than 60 portraits, clients of Cordaan, visitors to the gallery such as Daniel Uneputty, president of the Hells Angels, Marion Bloem, the writer and so on. In addition to Cordaan’s clients, staff and the director of Cordaan were also recorded. The portraits were given to them as a gift during the finnisage. “
Back in the kitchen I see a blue angel with wings, a barbie with flowers on her head, a statue with a butterfly on the head, photos taken in a French cemetery. “Besides Cordaan, I have had exhibitions in London and Korea. In September one will arrive at the Open Ateliers of WG Kunst in Amsterdam, together with Anita Mizrahi. ”

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The Grimm brothers
In 2008 she came across the Grimm brothers, on Hyves, the site. They are two gentlemen in festive suits, Robert Anthony and Thom Rijpstra, who brighten up parties with their costumes and a top hat. “Robert Anthony makes the costumes himself. He uses thousands of Swarovski crystals for that.” In 2013, she met them again and asked them if she could make a photo report of the gentlemen she wanted to show in 2014 at the VKK in the Voorschoten Museum. That was possible and the two gentlemen also came to the opening in their festive costume. Later she photographed them in the garden of the Outsider Art Gallery with a lady between the two gentlemen, Catherine Goodwin, in the ‘Mad Bride Performance’. When Maxima opened the Outsider Art Museum in 2017 after the Outsider gallery had moved into the Hermitage, she made a nice photo reportage of the visit to the museum and the studio with a beautiful photo of the Grimm Brothers, now with Queen Maxima between them.

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Photography as a therapy
Does she have a key work, a work that caused a change? She has. It is her first artistic photo, made in 2006 with a Sony-Ericsson cell phone, with tough kids skating on it. Her ‘witch photo’ on which she stands with a black witch pointed hat and, instead of a broom, a vacuum cleaner hose also appeared on her business card. This photo was made by Evertjan Vonk in 2014.
When she fell ill in 2016, she started walking with her iPhone as a therapy. “If you walk around with your smartphone, nobody asks anything, if you do that with your camera you get questions from everyone. I had a special lens for the macros. The series is called Soap Bubbles © Photography Project 2016-19, A Journey through moments of my Life. IPhone photos come and go like soap bubbles! “

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Return to analog
For a book presentation next year, she will work with an analog device. “I will continue with collages as works of art. I notice that people are interested in it. Although you can make beautiful portraits on smartphone, smartphone has destroyed the profession of photographer. Everyone is a photographer.” She has a Nikon FM – Film HP5 lens 50 mm. I see a picture of a grave in a cemetery in southern France. “I have a preference for cemeteries and a preference for black and white.”
There will be a workspace with darkroom in the new house in Leiden. “I’m going to work with the old technology again on light-sensitive UV material. With black and white you have to think differently, in shades of gray. I like a big grain. “
In the meantime, with Evertjan, she has also made films about Outsider Artists, artists who work outside the normal art circuit. She collaborated a lot with the Outsider Art Gallery of Bert Schoonhoven. There, work was exhibited by people with disabilities who started working creatively. Monika has also been working as a curator for three years. Every year she organizes several art exhibitions in which she also participates. She has portrayed famous people like Rob Scholte. This portrait can also be seen on the website of the Rob Scholte Museum. And she captured David Hollestelle, the guitarist of The Wild Romance, the band around Herman Brood. This photo was used for the promotion poster of The Wild Romance in 2016. And not to forget, for almost three years now Monika has been making a television program on the Amsterdam Broadcast OutsiderArt Tv, which can be seen every Friday evening at 8 pm on Salto 1.

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Finally, inspired by the old master Rembrandt van Rijn, she made the Flora collage, her version of Rembrandt’s Flora. It looks beautiful. Monika’s Flora is inspired by Madieanne, a strict mistress. “In her private life she is a kind of Flora. You see a doll with a kind of mask and a whip. There is a flower on the whip, because Madieanne loves her garden. In it she has a pond with koi carps. She is a passionate lady. That’s why I chose her. Just like with my other photos, there is a story behind this photo.” The photo was shown this year this year at the Pop Up Exhibition Laurier location organized by Monika in the canal zone of Amsterdam.
1) Brothers Grimm with Queen Maxima, reportage photography, 2) Lady with the dog, studio photography, 3) Stella, the Little Fairy, children’s portrait photography, 4) Rob Scholte, portrait, 5) Collage inspired by Frida Kahlo, 6) Tree analogue photography , 7) Model Robines Black Marl – Haute Provence, France, 8) Self-portrait by a carriage lamp, 9) Flora, collage, 10) The Witch (Portrait of Monika with her dog Flame) – Photography Evertjan Vonk

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