Carlijn Mens captures the brightest light through the deepest carbonblack. Light projects shadows, light transforms trunks, branches, leaves and flowers into perpetually changing silhouettes. In time and space she traces shadows, black on white and light from dark, that nature and life draw for her on the earth, on branches, leaves, and plants, on floors and walls and sheets of paper. Her body is drawn in and engages in this performance of shadow and light. She is thus often present in the images – as an instrument which detects and registers, also as an entity which autonomously leaves imprints and which traces the presence of bodies other than hers. Body, charcoal, and paper together constitute a field which is being endlessly walked through and traversed.

Once I witnessed Carlijn working on one of her plant drawings. I saw her drawing lines, then tracing and smudging them with her fingers, saw how she would draw out a contour, bringing blacks and greys to the paper and fading them out into other greys and new whites. What struck me: with one movement she creates five things simultaneously. Each gesture, each second unfolds into plurality.

Current exhibitions

18 december – 3 juli 2022
Vanwege Vincent, stedelijk museum Breda, groepstentoonstelling, Breda.


12 maart – 12 juni 2022
Voorbij de onschuld, kunst op papier in de 21ste eeuw, Stedelijk museum Vianen, Nederland


15 juni – 03 juli 2022
Sporen van betekenis, Stedelijk Museum Vianen


26 juni – 13 november 2022
Transition, Papier biënnale, Museum Rijswijk, Nederland


01 juli – 13 oktober 2022
Langs Lek en Linge, Stedelijk museum Vianen, Nederland





Film / Photography

The Pheasant Orchard

Along with the black and the white of charcoal and paper, in time also photography and video became important media. Projecting white, grey and black differently, here too of course it’s about light and shadow making each other visible. A parallel sense of the vulnerability of the moment emerges, maybe even more immediate than in drawing because the photographic image slips under the skin of time. The moment between light and dark which is made visible by the photographic image, is not the moment that we hunt but one that is hunting us. Something happening which lets us know it wants to be observed, and is caught in a video to render the playful and serious sides of life visible.

Cees de Boer