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Wijnanda Deroo: Inside New York Eateries


To the consummate New Yorker and the traveler, the photographs of Wijnanda Deroo, exhibited at Robert Mann Gallery in New York, seem familiar at the first glance. From the classic diner to the grand rooms of places such as the Club 21 or the Plaza’s Oak Room, many sat and dine but very few experienced these places like we can in her photographs: empty. It is said that a ‘real’ New Yorker in the streets never looks above the second floor, leaving the vertigo of the skyscrapers to the tourists. One can assume that when dining in good company at the Russian Tea room, we don’t pay much attention to the space itself. So, the photographs of Wijnanda Deroo while familiar and filled with stillness throw us as well in an unusual journey. Many of the places are of tradition and were kept pristine through the years and the back bar of the diner buried in plates could have been photographed anytime for the past 50 years, looking remotely the same. We can imagine as easily Howard Hughes seated at some table as we could picture next year ‘it girl’ walking soon through the aisles. Seemingly empty, the photographs are inhabited with the thousands of souls who laughed and cried, the palates which ravished and gushed over the wine and food. While Edward Hopper’s famed Nightawks had its unforgettable characters seated at the bar, Deroo’s empty spaces are undeniably habited, even more, maybe by these same figures who after visiting all the places stopped for one last drink at Hopper’s place. Maybe, next time we will stop by a familiar crowded and noisy restaurant, Deroo will drive us to envision it empty still, filled of yesterdays and tomorrows patrons.
Gilles Decamps

Until January 29 2011
Robert Mann Gallery
210 Eleventh Avenue
Between 24th & 25th Streets
Floor 10
New York NY 10001

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