There is something pleasantly contrary in the photographs that Johan Nieuwenhuize made during his three-month stay in China. At first he seems to dutifully concentrate on the classical genres, but quickly a malicious game unfolds with the respectable categories of still life, self-portrait and landscape. The self-portraits in particular have an awkward streak: why is that unmoved young face hidden behind a pair of stern glasses? Why is that long thin body squatting in a classical eastern pose? The still lifes too possess this grating quality: the pile of grimy patterns and pieces in an interior, the amazingly large ball of paper that seems to wring itself from a window frame. The landscapes, when the monochrome skies can be deemed as such, seem to break free from their primal model. Or are they meant to be an abstract counterpoint that represents simplicity and calm?
Excerpt from Still lifes, self-portraits, skies. Hripsimé Visser on the work of Johan Nieuwenhuize, MADE IN CHINA, 2011