Wijnanda Deroo

The New York Times

Robert Mann
210 11th Avenue, Chelsea
Through Oct. 13

It is dangerous to say an artist exhibits national tendencies, but Wijnanda Deroo’s photographs are so Dutch the connection is inescapable.

As the show’s title promises, she focuses on interiors. As in Vermeer’s work, one of the prominent aspects of these deeply hued, expertly composed photographs is the relationship between inside and out, highlighted by windows and doors that offer glimpses of the exterior or allow light from it to cascade in.

Maps in Vermeer’s paintings alluded to the world beyond the his doorstep, the one explored and colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century. Ms. Deroo’s photographs record her own travels in Indonesia, the Caribbean and the United States, although from the vantage point of a traveler who never makes it off the ship or out of the hotel.

The cryptic narratives favored by Dutch masters — erotically charged music lessons, sleeping maids, people passing letters — are replaced in Ms. Deroo’s unpopulated interiors by sly visual jokes and elegant formal juxtapositions. In the “Party Room,” taken in Puerto Rico, there is a crudely painted mural depicting a Caribbean sunset (presumably you could witness a real one outside); a mirror in a Kansas hat store reflects the legs of the tripod and the photographer’s foot.

Even Ms. Deroo’s love of color feels Dutch. Her deep red rooms and a bright, multicolored Indonesian cafe update Gerrit Rietveld or Jaap Drupsteen’s eye-popping designs for guilder notes.

These are intensely formalist rather than Conceptualist works, unless you consider the correspondence between images of rooms and the camera itself; the word, after all, comes from the Latin word for “chamber.” And in Vermeer’s day images of rooms implied the possible use of camera obscura devices. Mostly Ms. Deroo’s photographs demonstrate the rewards of close looking and mining an aesthetic heritage — even one that in the abstract sounds as clichéd as Dutch interiors.