HERO Westergas - Bertien van Manen - selected works: inaugural exhibition

6 March - 30 May 2020

In the light of the recent developments about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, HERO is from saturday 14 march open by appointment only

You can reach us at +31 (0) 650502753 or office@hero-gallery.com


HERO Westergas 

Inaugural exhibition 
-Selected works-
6 March - 10 April
Opening: Friday 6 March 17 - 21 hrs

HERO proudly announces the launch of HERO Westergas, a new project space located at Het Meterhuisje. The gallery’s third collaboration with Westergas. Here it is scheduled to run for six months, with future shows that will include presentations of new work by Thomas Raat and Shezad Dawood.


The HERO Westergas’ inaugural show is a presentation of selected works by acclaimed Dutch photographer Bertien Van Manen. HERO’s exhibition comprises images from a number of van Manen’s seminal bodies of works; A hundred summers a hundred winters, the record of her extensive travels through post-Soviet Russia; East Wind West wind, images from her very personal exploration of China; Give me your image, intimate photographs of the lives of people van Manen befriended across Europe and finally a series of photographs shot in Japan, being shown in The Netherlands for the first time.


In tandem with the Stedelijk’s show, HERO’s exhibition celebrates the extraordinary, empathic quality of van Manen’s work – her ability to bring the lives of others into our own with thought and tenderness. 


“Through her excellent photographs and her inquiring and humanistic temperament, and with powerful artistic expression, Bertien van Manen shows what historians, writers, sociologists and political scientists argue, that there exist at least two Russias. There is the official, imperial and external Russia, known to us from newspaper headlines, and the one within, the hidden, poor Russia of the anonymous, ordinary people of whose existence Bertien van Manen's moving and revealing album tells.”


 Ryszard Kapuscinski on A Hundred summers, a hundred winters


“To penetrate the privacy of other people’s lives would take a great deal of tact anywhere. For a Dutch photographer to have found her way into the intimate corners of Chinese lives must have taken more than that… Bertien van Manen has penetrated those units, to show us how Chinese live, eat, touch, talk, and sleep in private. To have done this she must have been not only tactful, put persistant, curious and symphathetic. You can tell from her photographs that she was trusted. Even if she never sees them again, you feel that her subjects are her friends… Bertien van Manen’s pictures do not have an overtly political message. She is an artist, not an activist. But the political history of China is visible in almost every photograph…”


Ian Buruma on East wind, West wind



About Bertien Van Manen 


Born in 1942 in The Hague, The Netherlands, Bertien van Manen lives and works in Amsterdam. 


Bertien van Manen started her career as a fashion photographer, but Robert Frank's photo book The Americans (1958) inspired her to concentrate on her own projects, taking a spontaneous, unforced approach. She made lengthy, repeated trips to the Appalachians in the US, the former Soviet Union and China. The collection of the Stedelijk Museum holds over 80 photos from various projects, including the generous donation that Van Manen made in 2013 from her series Lets Sit Down Before We GoGive Me Your Image and Vrouwen te Gast.


Van Manen's work is rooted in classic (social) photo reportage in serious of straightforward black and white which, up until the 1980s, was an important genre. Gradually, she evolved a personal, poetic form of colour photography that reveals her enduring, highly personal relationships with her subjects. The common thread running through the exhibition is the various series that Van Manen has produced since the 1970s, from her autobiographical work and the first series in Budapest in the 1970s, the black and white series about female migrant workers and nuns in the 1980s, the stories about Russian and Chinese people coping with changes in society in the 1990s, her series documenting other people’s family photos at the start of this century, to the sensitive (landscape) photos taken after losing her husband in 2010.


Her most recent monograph, Beyond Maps and Atlases, was published by MACK in 2016. She has released seven previous monographs includin gA hundred summers, a hundred winters (1994); East Wind West Wind (2004); Give Me Your Image (2005); and Let’s sit down before we go (2011), among others. Van Manen’s work has been exhibited internationally at museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fotomuseum Winterthur; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Photographer’s Gallery, London; and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo. Her work is held in the permanent collections of several major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. 




Image: Bertien van Manen, Tomsk Railwaystation, 1991-1993, C-print