Hajnalka Beren (Hajnalka Berényi-Kiss) is a Vienna based portrait artist. Her photography resembles paintings of a past era, with meticulous attention to detail, colour, and lighting.
She was born and raised on the edge of the Balkans, a place rich in diversity and torn by conflict. “Growing up crafting and creating, especially drawing and painting, has been a form of self-expression. Art was my safe heaven in an uncertain life shaped by ethnic tensions and war. Moving to Austria has allowed me to discover photography, which has since become my passion. I’m completely self-taught and strongly believe that art is a tool to connect with myself and others.”
Hajnalka’s portraits are rich in meaning and symbolism, variously referring to art history but also periods of general history in an attempt to reimagine women’s role in them. She draws her inspiration from Renaissance paintings, folklore, and modern fairytales. Her subjects are portrayed as gracious, strong, and powerful, while remaining feminine. “Women can be protagonists and leaders, without loosing touch with their femininity. I’d like my work to reflect and honour this.”
In her historically inspired work her subjects display complex inner lives, often suggesting that something is perhaps weighing upon them. “I’m drawn to moody, dramatic scenes which I seek to manifest in my images in the way I use the interplay of shadow and light. But, perhaps more importantly, I want to capture strong emotions and expressions in my subjects. I want the gaze to tell a narrative. Everyone has a story. Everyone wants to be a particular version of themselves in front of the camera. My art aims to eternalise the self that my sitters are in search of.”
Photo | Retouch :@hajnalkaberen.photo(Self-portrait)