Photography by Inta Nahapetjan
Currently on view - June-July 2020The center piece of Inta Nahapetjan’s newest body of work is a standout enigmatic portrait: In the middle of a deep forest, a young woman is holding an oval-shaped mirror in front of her face, turning the reflective side against the viewer. But the mirror is not reflecting anyone in front of her, instead, it reflects the surrounding forest with no way out. The effect of looking “through” the woman creates a double enigmatic effect.
Whatever we see of the model is most sensual: her long wavy hair flowing naturally along the neck, the skin of her bare shoulders and slopes of her breasts seems young and smooth. Because of the missing facial expression, her hands are speaking a stronger language: the delicacy of the thin, elegant fingers and their shapely nails are symbolic for the photographer’s own hands - her personal tools for making art.
Inta Nahapetjan is passionate about portrait photography. Working solely alone from the creative concept, the close collaboration with her models, to the sophisticated styling and final direction of the shot, Inta has staged and portrayed numerous personalities from ballet, arts and culture. However, her new series SoulQuest is portraiture without visibility of the model: this time Inta looks beyond the body and its shape, picturing the intangible and making the invisible visible. SoulQuest is purely portraiture of the soul.
The woman with the mirror is the center piece in the exhibition. It is flanked by two large scale views of different forests: a Latvian and Armenian one. The complexity and depth of a forest stand for the unfathomability and deepness of the human soul. For these works Inta travelled back to Latvia and Armenia, her motherland, and involved herself in an extensive journey back to her childhood.
“I have heard many stories about my Armenian roots from my mom and grandmother, and I got very emotional when I finally arrived there in 2017. Armenia is a land with a mystical air and a history, interwoven with legends such as the landing of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, when Armenia adopted Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD. This wondrous journey to my homeland was a true spiritual enrichment for me. During this trip I shot one of the forest photos.
My father lives in Latvia, by the seaside Jurmala, and I was always very curious to go there as well. During the Soviet times Jurmala was famous for its sanatoria for the upper class, a combination of a recreational resort facility and a medical facility. In 2018 I went there for various Ayurvedic sessions. It was an intense week not only physically but also, I had time to reflect on my soul and get more in touch with my inner space. The photo of the other forest in the exhibition was my unforgettable ominous view from my room.”
Inta’s photographs of forests are to be seen as portraits rather than landscapes: They are studies of nature’s different mentalities. They are captured presences of souls.
“I see the forest as the eternal soul of mother nature. For me it’s a reflection of the emotional state of my soul and connection to nature. The forest’s ever-changing beauty goes parallel with my moods.“
In Holland Inta Nahapetjan lives since the age of 10. She was brought up by her mom and grandma, both strong and talented women, who taught her to love and live her own creativity and femininity:
“I see the forest as a symbol of a woman’s soul; her unrevealed, solitary part which is deep down peaceful and wise. I wanted to blend the mysterious appearance of a woman with the identification of her soul.”
Picking up on classical methods of Surrealism in photography, Inta raises questions on duality of identity and puts you on a SoulQuest in order to find the true self. In the end, she will make you fall in love with yourself. This is her influence as an artist - she is both: romantic and commanding.
Inta Nahapetjan lives and works in Amsterdam with her one-year old daughter Helena and her fiancé Silvan.
All photographs of the series SoulQuest are available in large, medium and small sizes. The series includes special limited edition prints which have been developed especially for this exhibition.