Galerie Guido W. Baudach presents the eighth solo show of Erwin Kneihsl.
The artist originating from Vienna is known for his black and white photographies of selected subjects created with analog cameras. The images are transferred by hand deduction to Barite paper and are presented in an innovative, often spatially based way.
For the decidedly titled show that´s it Kneihsl transformed the exhibition space of the gallery by means of various fittings to an enclosed but at the same time transparent sphere. The photographies are not attached to the walls in a classic way but distributed well-aimed on the floor like autumn leaves in a Japanese garden. Outside and inside converge. Seemingly the garden is transplanted into an interior that brides with withdrawn as well as clear coordinates. To the objectified atmosphere especially contributes the even and dimmed scattered interior light. Entrance and closure of the exhibition space as well as a window placed laterally in the wall are provided with milky white shoji paper, an intervention that transmits the shaded atmosphere of the photographies to the perception of the space.
The presentation of the photographic works on the gallery floor may evoke the impression of a deliberate devaluation. However, more actual is a challenge that takes place to the visitors viewing practices. In general the exhibition follows its very own idea of aesthetic perfection by emphasizing the not symmetrical, the not yet finished and the irritating thing. Kneihsl realizes this basic idea also with the selection of his picture motives. While predominantly photographs of the sun are to be seen, the prototypical origin of all light, as well as differently illuminated portraits of a seemingly androgynous display dummy, other subjects differing from this iconography can be found here and there – for instance a photography where we see Kneihsl himself behind his camera.
The inclusion of the author but also the depiction of the light source reminds of pictorial creations turning up in Flemish painting of the 17th century. Especially in Jan Vermeer´s interiors windows appear as concrete sources of light whose radiation is modelling the figurations in the paintings in a complex way – similarily, Kneihsl directs the face of the dummy by side light and by backward light. At the same time considerations on photo theory come into play since the skin surface of the dummy shows exactly the same degree of reflection as the Gray Card, an indispensable photometric aid for the photographer.
Display dummies and suns are popular topoi of Classical Modernism. The first is connected to Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) and Surrealism, the second has its place inter alia in the Russian Avant-Garde, by name in the context of Constructivism. In Kneihsls pictorial cosmos both have been around as central motifs for quite some time. By continuous practice and repetition the artist follows a programmatic approach that expresses itself by more and more elaborate versions of the same theme. This constant exploration leads to the fact that through ever new light and shadow stagings the stereotypical three-dimensional figure of the dummy appears in a variety of ways and thereby seems strangely alive. At the same time the tension between individualized physicality and objectified artificiality lends the photographies a futuristic moment that makes one think of human cyborgs.
From the sea of leaves a larger, framed dummy image protrudes. It is juxtaposed with a photo of a gorilla printed on magenta red paper. Both are created with a digital camera and executed as computer generated prints which make them appear as a deliberate extension of Kneihsls usually analog way of working. The photo of the monkey shows an animal preparation from a Museum of Natural History that as well as the image of the dummy can be understood as an anthropological metaphor. However, it does not refer to the future but to the past, to the evolutionary history of man. Which when placed together, the two photographs form an imaginary timeline.
With that´s it Erwin Kneihsl combines selected aspects of Western art history with aesthetic concepts of Japanese culture and creates thereby on the basis of his own decades of practice in his medium a new, different manifestation of photography.