Born in Lausanne in 1991, the Swiss artist Manon Wertenbroek obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Photography at the Lausanne University of Art and Design (ECAL) in 2014. Now based in Paris, her work explores the emergence of emotions and the accompanying physiological responses within the context of human interactions. Using a highly personal aesthetic and introspective approach, Wertenbroek incorporates both abstract and figurative elements, alternating between explicit and allusive translations of the psychology and emotions of the people she describes. In both her individual portraits and in the social scenes she depicts, particular details are highlighted and take on heightened significance, speaking to individual and group identity. In the background, she employs bright colours that express the cumulative atmosphere and feelings that rise up from within.
In her approach, she uses the singular technique of engraving PVC mirror panels that she then places in front of coloured papers, paintings, or her computer screen. She then photographs the completed installations and prints the final images. The result is a formal exploration of new subjects, textures, and surfaces on the cusp between photography and painting. Although the mirror’s reflection is often fixed in her work, the shifting surface serves an important metaphoric role. The mirror is transformed into a space for introspection and “autofictions,” permitting a wide spectrum of play on the question of identity.
In 2015, her work was presented in group exhibitions at the Foam Museum in Amsterdam, the Center for Contemporary Art in Geneva, and the following year, at the Swiss Institute in Rome. In 2017, she exhibited a series of photographic works in her first solo exhibition at Coalmine in Winterthur, Switzerland. The same year, her work was given the Swiss Art Award in Basel, a prize given out by the Federal Office of Culture. In 2018, she presented a new set of PVC mirror panels as part of an exhibition at the Swiss Institute in Milan. In this series, the viewer became an actor in the work by being confronted with their own mirror image—one which was then deformed by the reflective, painted, engraved, and cut-up surface.
Currently, Wertenbroek is working on a collaboration with the Elysée Museum in Lausanne and the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences at the University of Geneva. The final result will be a video projection that will be presented in June 2018 at the Elysée Museum.
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