Mandy den Elzen explores intersections between art, nature and science. Her practice is deeply rooted in the romantic fascination with natural phenomena and mysticism. Intrigued by nature’s ingenuity, the artist engages with animal and plant kingdoms, combining intense fieldwork with extensive research and comprehensive preservation techniques.
In her practice, Mandy den Elzen unites the approaches and methods of an artist, morphologist, and taxonomist. Particularly interested in the unique properties of organic structures, she separates natural materials from their original functions. The artist meticulously examines botanical specimens and researches the complex morphology of plants. With the same scientific rigour, she selects internal organs of various animals and subjects them to a series of scrupulous conservation processes. As a result, the organic materials alter their appearance and become displayable yet enigmatic objects, seducing the viewers with their extraordinary shapes, textures, colours, and patterns.
What characterises den Elzen’s artistic approach is the complete control of and hands-on commitment to the creation processes. To single out specimens boasting distinctive morphological features, the artist regularly explores old forests and vast bodies of water as well as slaughterhouses and fish markets. Den Elzen reveals unexpected aesthetic qualities of raw forms by stripping specimens from their original biological functions. Her works touch on the ever-shifting essence of nature—capturing transcendent beauty and allure with uncanny undertones of repulsion and aversion.
Functioning like microcosms encased in glass, the artist’s pieces spark interest in the origin of life and biological evolution and remind viewers of the Renaissance cabinets of curiosities. Mandy den Elzen’s works not only manifest the artist’s passion for nature and its aesthetics but also stimulate viewers’ imagination and encourage contemplation of hidden aspects of living organisms.
Mandy den Elzen’s works have been exhibited internationally and are included in numerous public and private collections.
She is also the recipient of the Mondriaan Fund Talent Development Grant for Emerging Artists.
text by Marek Wolynski