The group exhibition PRINTED brings together the photographic works of three generations of American and European artists. What all of these have in common is a leaning toward abstract representation, which they achieve by means of the most diverse techniques. The consistently medium-sized and smaller formats enable the viewer to first make out large forms and structures, before being able to perceive anything concrete. Many of these works are generated as abstract images in the studio or darkroom, some even exclusively so.
The Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992), internationally known at the latest since the 2011 Venice Biennale, looked upon his photographs as excerpts from a seen reality that graphically interprets his photographic representations of the known, conflating it at a single level and rendering it legible in a new way. Streets, houses, light, become landscape-depictions of civilization. Romanian artist Ion Grigorescu (born 1945), who lives and works in Bucharest, processes his photographic works in a laboratory, creating strong forms that point up a connection between, and dependence on, impoverished but lively social, rural and urban structures. Seen together, the works of these two artists act as ideal representatives of their western, respectively eastern European origins, Italy and Romania.
New York photographer Troy Brauntuch (born 1954) belongs to the middle generation. His works contain drama and political reference hidden, so to speak, between high-contrast formations of the visible. The works of Zoe Leonard (born 1961 in Liberty, New York) reflect her own turbulent life through her choice of figurative motifs, outdoor shots cloaking stories that form a significant invisible second level.
The young generation is represented by Josh Brand (born 1980), who lives in Brooklyn, New York, Eileen Quinlan (born 1972), who also lives in Brooklyn, and the Scottish artist Luke Fowler (born 1978), who lives and works in Glasgow. Fowler’s filmic approach is mirrored in the presentation of the photographs in the exhibition: in each case two takes placed side by side, their interaction heightened by a poetic title. Eileen Quinlan produces her works exclusively in the laboratory. She uses various developing techniques and a wide variety of materials, such as, for example, mirrors, to create abstract phenomena and impressions of space. Josh Brand’s works recall those of older traditions, such as the photogram, albeit with freer gestural features. He also combines different materials with photographic material, producing collages which he places in a contemporary context.
Strangely enough, the popularity of art photography over the past two decades, including the electronic possibilities of image manipulation, has led to such a familiarization with the medium that its potential for experimentation and social commitment has faded into the background, with just a few exceptions. The exhibition PRINTED would therefore like to draw attention once again to the abstract possibilities of photography. Especially the smaller formats are intended to inspire our eye to see photography again from its figurative side. Except for the works of Brauntuch and Leonard, the photographs in the exhibition have all been produced using purely analogue processes. For the young generation in particular, the aspect of the process is the starting point for producing images based on the interaction of paper, chemical processes and captured light. Through this they connect up once again to the origins of photography. (Text: Axel Jablonski)