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#3 To Paris Photo

Speaking: Rino Boersma

Galerie Pennings in the Paris Photo catalog of 1998

In 1994, Harry Pennings handed over his furniture store to a successor. This gave him the opportunity to do what he liked best, to focus entirely on photography. He continued the photo gallery on the first floor of the adjacent building. In 1997 he hired his first employee. 1997 was also the year of the very first edition of Paris Photo.

Rino Boersma came into contact with Galerie Pennings through the Projectburo of the municipality of Eindhoven. Through this Projectburo, he made the transition from an administrative position at the Victim Support Foundation to a government-supported workplace (Melkertbaan) at Galerie Pennings. He also followed a website designer course in the evenings. When he found a permanent job as a website designer in 2000, he left Galerie Pennings.

“When I became an employee in the gallery, there was more structure in the organization. We organized around six exhibitions a year. Usually two presentations took place simultaneously, one in the gallery space and one in the stairwell. I made press releases and invitations. The invitations were designed graphically and about four to five hundred were printed. These were then still sent by mail, not by e-mail. But the gallery had already started with a website.”

“Getting into photo magazines was tricky, they all had a different deadline. But due to precise planning, it was nevertheless possible to be mentioned in various magazines. National newspapers did not come to the gallery to review an exhibition. We discussed the reason, but the presumption was that Eindhoven was too far away from the cultural heart of the Netherlands.”

“My work for the gallery was very diverse. I usually did the hanging of the works for the exhibitions myself or together with Harry. Openings were often on Saturday afternoon, with a speech by Harry himself or by the artist. We didn't organize lectures at the time.”

“Harry had an eye for quirky photography. He organized exhibitions including Hans Biezen, Jacqueline Salmon, Patrick Bailly Maître Grand, Bernard Faucon, Elspeth Diederix, Viviane Sassen, Arthur Tress, Tada Masami, Dolf Kruger, Paul Bogaers, Frank van der Salm, and Charles Fréger. Relatively many French photographers, because Harry and Françoise themselves were often in France. Many photographers who exhibited at Galerie Pennings became known later."

“Elspeth Diederix and Viviane Sassen had installed their own work in a quirky manner, Elspeth Diederix in the gallery and Viviane Sassen in the stairwell. For his exhibition, Paul Bogaers had made a dark installation without light in the gallery, a video presentation with owls. That was all possible. Harry always gave artists as much freedom as possible. He was dead serious about the artists. Frank van der Salm had even moved the walls and mounted spotlights to illuminate his landscapes. The spots then remained in the gallery."

“We reserved Tuesday for a visit to the photographer. We went on a studio visit to orientate ourselves. Or we invited the photographers to the gallery. This is how Charles Fréger (see blog # 1) came to the gallery to show his series ‘Majorettes’. Photographers also often came to show their work unannounced at fairs, but that was inconvenient, because then you have no time for them.”

Paris Photo

Paris Photo was first organized in 1997. The director was a Dutchman, Rik Gadella. Rino Boersma went to see the fair, together with Jo Brunenberg. The following year Harry Pennings also wanted to go to the exhibition as a participant. “We came through the ballot committee and with the support of the Mondriaan Fund we were able to participate in Paris Photo in 1998. Ton Peek Gallery and Flatland Gallery were also present there, along with many galleries from all over the world. Paris Photo was a success right from the start: the entire photography world comes from all continents.”

Galerie Pennings in the Paris Photo catalog of 2000

(Paris Photo is the first art fair in Europe ever dedicated to photography. Gallery owners, artists and collectors from all over the world come together for this art fair in Paris. In the first years, the Carr