until 23.10. | #3186ARTatBerlin| Daniel Marzona currently shows the exhibition TRACES London – Berlin with works by the artist Axel Hütte.
In the third solo exhibition by Axel Hütte (born 1951), two formally clearly distinct groups of works are juxtaposed. In the front room of the gallery we show a series of medium-format architectural photographs taken in London between 1982 and 1984, which reveal a supposed closeness to the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, with whom Hütte studied at the Düsseldorf Academy. The photographs are all in black and white and are mostly taken in strict frontality. At second glance, however, the seemingly sober and objective approach proves to be ambiguous. The view into the street line of the Peabody Estate, for example, leaves both the façades to the right and left and the situation in the depths a little unclear. Similarly, the view between two buildings to a third one behind: The eye jumps from the foreground to the background and sideways again to a corner of a house that is only just cut.
In Great Suffolk Road, spatial orientation is rendered impossible by all the roads and driveways, subways, railway bridges and parts of buildings, and in their entirety the pictorial constructions of the early architectural shots lead the viewer’s gaze round and round in circles, offer no support and leave perception reeling.
In another irritating way, Hütte’s latest pictures show flowers – wilted cut flowers that seem to grow into the picture from the lower edge of the picture on their own authority as a still life. All the photographs in the series were taken in certain lighting conditions in Hütte’s Berlin studio and then brought into their valid form by means of a comparatively simple image manipulation, namely the reversal of all colour values. Against a matt black background – either printed on metal or on large-format sheets of paper – the plants protrude strangely into the viewer’s field of vision, shining out of themselves, while the original cast shadows seem to follow them like trace-like veils of light.
As surreal as the Flowers may seem and as much as the plants in these pictures appear as ghosts of themselves, it is too easy to locate this series of pictures solely in a luringly dark to metallic spraying counterworld. The production method of colour inversion is at first a purely technical operation, a controlled experiment with visual habits. However, the technique does not aim at complete illusion, at overwhelming the eye with the fascination of a completely different world, but thoroughly acknowledges the timeless, original beauty of the motifs as an independent quality of the photographs.
The awareness that every photograph can not only be altered, enhanced or manipulated has become common knowledge. Where the corresponding app on the mobile phone optimises or alienates one’s own selfies, artificiality is not an aberration but another normal case. Against this background, photography that sees itself as art at the height of the times has an increased reason to reflect on the artificiality of the image. In their own peculiar way, all of Axel Hütte’s pictures take this circumstance into account. Out of the general flood of images, the work ultimately stands out as a surrealism grounded in reality, which considerably complicates the usual handling of the paradigm of the photographic and at the same time leaves the viewer massive freedom for the free-floating power of the imagination.
Preview: Wednesday, 15 September + Thursday, 16 September 2021, each 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Opening: Friday, 17 September 2021, 6 to 9 p.m.
Exhibition dates: Friday, 10 September to Saturday, 23 October 2021To the Gallery
Exhibition Axel Hütte – Daniel Marzona | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galerien | ART at Berlin