Galerie Ron Mandos is excited to be part of the 2021 edition of Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam. This year’s presentation includes a selection of works by Erwin Olaf, Isaac Julien, Mohau Modisakeng, Gilleam Trapenberg, and Tasio Bidegain. The presented works show people, places and cultural practices around the world through the eyes of the artists, exploring themes like migration, slavery, and exoticism.

Practical Information:

1014 DD Amsterdam

Opening Hours:
Friday 17 September: 11.00 – 21.00 uur
Saturday 18 September: 11.00 -19.00 uur
Sunday 19 September: 11.00 – 19.00 uur

Online day ticket: € 19,50 p.p. A time slot is required to enter the fair. Click here to book reserve your ticket(s).


Erwin Olaf

Erwin Olaf (NL, 1959) explores the human experience through meticulously staged scenes. His distinctive aesthetic is highly stylized and perfectly polished, yet his work penetrates deep beneath a pretty facade. Instead, the heart of Olaf’s work addresses social issues, taboos, and conventions, often through subtle or mysterious details. A lot of his work is contextualized by complex race relations, the devastation of economic divisions, and the complications of sexuality. At Unseen we show the photographs and a five-screen moving portraits installation from the Shanghai series. This series is the second in a trilogy created by Olaf during his travels around the world. Within the three-part series, Olaf visually demonstrates the transformations occurring in Berlin, Shanghai and Palm Springs. About Shanghai he said, “[The city] reminds me of a young, confident adolescent full of boundless energy, convinced of its own power, and doing whatever it takes to reach its potential.”


Isaac Julien

Isaac Julien CBE RA (UK, 1960) is acclaimed for his multi-screen film installations and photographs. He currently has a solo exhibition at Galerie Ron Mandos, showing his Lessons of the Hour from 2019 alongside his very first film Who Killed Colin Roach? from 1983. At Unseen we present a work from Stones Against Diamonds created in 2015, which draws inspiration from a letter written by Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi and was shot in Iceland’s remote ice caves. The artwork examines themes within Bo Bardi’s letter, where she praises the beauty of semi-precious gems over preferred precious stones, such as diamonds. Shooting in remote Vatnajökull region in Southeast Iceland Austurland, and using the breath-taking scenery of glistening ice caves as a set for the photograph, Julien portrays some of the most beautiful objects as the least precious in a conventional sense.


Mohau Modisakeng

Mohau Modisakeng (ZA, 1986) confronts in his work collective traumas and geographical displacements. He reflects on the socio-political, cultural, economic, and psychological implications of Africa’s violent colonial history. To establish this Modisakeng uses material, metaphor and the black body as tools. At Unseen we show works from Modisakeng’s series Zanj created in 2019 for the Sharjah Biennial. In Zanj, Modisakeng created a choreographed procession as a symbol for the movement of bodies and trade between the Gulf area and the East African coast. The photographs depict figures on a bed of sand, presenting both the ocean and the desert which had to be traversed during the period of slavery. Modisakeng uses history as a starting point for a larger meditation on the historical and present-day implications of mass migration.


Gilleam Trapenberg

Gilleam Trapenberg (CW, 1991) reflects on the contradictions that are part of the social landscape in Curaçao, where the idea of a utopian paradise is diametrically opposed to the realities of post-colonialism and tourism. He explores stereotypes and tropes that have manifested themselves through social culture and the Western media. At Unseen we present his series New Suns, in which the artist used the Caribbean sun as a symbol of exoticism and leisure to reflect on the tropes and stereotypes that establish the ideas of the Caribbean paradise on earth. The Caribbean sun also represents home for Trapenberg and visualises his ongoing search for the perfect Caribbean sun.


Tasio Bidegain

Tasio Bidegain (FR, 1996) is the winner of the RM Photo Talent Award presented to him during the Best of Graduates 2020 exhibition at Galerie Ron Mandos. As a young interdisciplinary visual artist, Tasio Bidegain developed several independent artistic practices including painting, drawing, video, and photography as a quotidian way to react and reflect on his surroundings. Over the last years, his practices have been converging into the creation of large-scale hand-carved photographs, leading him to establish his very own pictorial technique and visual language. At Unseen we show Bidegain’s series Signs of Seeing. This series consists of three photographs depicting seemingly banal but mystical details found over the city of Amsterdam. By using the chiaroscuro technique to make the objects emerge out of the darkness of the photographic print, the subtext of the photograph comes to the surface, making each print a unique expression of his visions. In this way Bidegain plays with the ideas of vision in a social media and attention-based society.

ABOUT Isaac Julien

Sir Isaac Julien, CBE RA is a critically acclaimed British artist and filmmaker. In 2018, Julien joined the faculty at the University of California Santa Cruz where he is a distinguished professor of the arts and leads the Isaac Julien Lab together with Arts Professor Mark Nash. Current and recent international solo exhibitions include: Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi — A Marvellous Entanglement, CentroCentro (Panorama Madrid), Madrid, Spain, on view until 29 August 2021; Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour, McAvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco (2020–2021); Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi — A Marvellous Entanglement, MAXXI, Rome (2020–2021); Isaac Julien: Western Union: Small Boats, Neuberger Museum, New York (2020); Isaac Julien: Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2019); Looking for Langston at Tate Britain (2019); and Playtime at LACMA (2019). Julien has previously exhibited at venues including Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013), Art Institute of Chicago (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2012), and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2005). Julien is the recipient of The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award 2017 and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017.

Isaac Julien was born in 1960, London, UK
He lives and works in London, UK and Santa Cruz, CA


ABOUT Erwin Olaf

Erwin Olaf is an internationally exhibiting artist whose diverse practice centers around society’s marginalized individuals, including people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. In 2019 Olaf became a Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands after 500 works from his oeuvre were added to the collection of the Rijksmuseum. Taco Dibbits, Rijksmuseum director, called Olaf “one of the most important photographers of the final quarter of the 20th century”.

In 2018, Olaf completed a triptych of monumental photographic and filmic tableaux portraying periods of seismic change in major world cities, and the citizens embraced and othered by their urban progress. Like much of his work, it is contextualized by complex race relations, the devastation of economic divisions, and the complications of sexuality. Olaf has maintained an activistic approach to equality throughout his 40-year career after starting out documenting pre-AIDS gay liberation in Amsterdam’s nightlife in the 1980s.

A bold and sometimes controversial approach has earned the artist a number of prestigious collaborations, from Vogue and Louis Vuitton, to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. He served as the official portrait artist for the Dutch royal family in 2017, and designed the national side of the euro coins for King Willem-Alexander in 2013. He has been awarded the Netherlands’ prestigious Johannes Vermeer Award, as well as Photographer of the Year at the International Color Awards, and Kunstbeeld magazine’s Dutch Artist of the Year.

Erwin Olaf has exhibited worldwide, including Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Málaga, Spain; Museu da Imagem e do Som, São Paulo, Brazil; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago, Chile. In the spring of 2019, Olaf’s work was the subject of a double exhibition at Kunstmuseum The Hague and The Hague Museum of Photography, as well as a solo exhibition at the Shanghai Center of Photography. In 2021, Erwin Olaf had his first solo exhibition Im Wald at Galerie Ron Mandos and mounted a large survey exhibition at Kunsthalle München, Germany.

Olaf’s work is included in numerous private and public collections, such as the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum, both in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, The Netherlands, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, United States; Art Progressive Collection, United States, and the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia.

Erwin Olaf was born in 1959 in Hilversum, The Netherlands
He lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Visit the artist’s website here.


ABOUT Mohau Modisakeng

Born in 1986 in Soweto, South Africa
Lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Material, metaphor and the black body are the tools that Mohau Modisakeng uses to explore the influence of South Africa’s violent history that has been ignored in today’s society, on how we understand our cultural, political, and social roles as human beings in post-colonial Africa and in particular post-apartheid South Africa. Represented through film, large-scale photographic prints, installations and performances, his “work doesn’t start off with an attempt to portray violence but it becomes mesmerising because although we might recognise history as our past, the body is indifferent to social changes, so it remembers.”

Born in Soweto, an epicentre of black urbanity and cosmopolitan culture, the multi-award winning Mohau Modisakeng is a product of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art. Mentored by Jane Alexander and predominantly working and training in sculpture, he completed his undergraduate degree in 2009 then completed his Masters degree at the same institution. He was awarded the SASOL New Signatures Award for 2011 and has exhibited at Armory Show, New York (2016); Saatchi Gallery, London (2012); Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar (2012); Focus 11 and Basel (2011). In 2013 Modisakeng produced an ambitious new video work in association with Samsung as a special project for the 2013 FNB Joburg Art Fair. His work is included in public collections such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town and SAATCHI Gallery, London as well as significant private collections such as Zeitz MOCAA.


ABOUT Tasio Bidegain

Born in 1996 in Menorca, Spain
Works and lives in Amsterdam, The Netherland

As a young interdisciplinary visual artist Tasio Bidegain (1996) developed several independent artistic practices like painting, drawing, video, and photography as a quotidian way to react and reflect on his surroundings. Over the last years, his practices have been converging into the creation of large-scale hand-carved photographs, leading him to establish his very own pictorial technique and visual language.

Presently, his work is focused on merging analogue and digital practices together into crafted images that can carry complex narratives. He aims at creating new visual ways of describing the intricate facets of reality, in an attempt to synthesize and fixate in time his personal experience of the chaotic world.

Bidegain’s work process is both material and research-based and stands at a crossroads in-between figuration and abstraction, graphically communicating ideas while leaving space for subjective interpretations to arise.

His works have been exhibited in Amsterdam at Stedelijk Museum, Arti et Amicitiae, FOAM Museum, Galerie Ron Mandos, Het HEM, Unseen; in Paris at Citée Internationale des Arts, Galerie Bertrand Grimont; in Prague at Campus Hybernska; in New York at Shrine Gallery & Sargent’s Daughter; and have been included in the ABN AMRO Collection and private collections and he is the recipient of the 2020 RM Photo Talent Prize, awarded by Eelco van der Lingen, director of the Mondriaan Fonds.


ABOUT Gilleam Trapenberg

Born in 1991 in Willemstad, Curaçao
Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Gilleam Trapenberg (1991, Willemstad, Curaçao) moved to the Netherlands at the age of nineteen and graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2017. He participated in multiple group exhibitions, such as In The Presence of Absence at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2020). In 2017 he published his first photo book Big Papi and in 2018 he was one of the nominees for the Foam Paul Huf Award. He’s the fourth recipient of the Florentine Riem Vis grant (2020). His first solo exhibition at Foam, Amsterdam opened in 2021. Gilleam Trapenberg lives and works in Amsterdam.

Through his work, Trapenberg reflects on the contradictions that are part of the social landscape in Curaçao, were the idea of a utopian paradise is diametrically opposed to the realities of post-colonialism and tourism. He explores stereotypes and tropes that have manifested themselves through social culture and the Western media.