Friday, April 22, 2011
Andreas Gefeller, The Japan Series @Hasted Kraeutler
Comments/Context: Back in the olden days of photography, when we would refer to the "construction" of an image, what we were talking about was where the photographer placed his or her camera, how he or she used the frame to define the edges and center of the composition, or perhaps how some staging was done to further heighten the overall effect. In our new digital age, "construction" has taken on a variety of new meanings, the most prominent being the use of PhotoShop and other tools to combine multiple source images into a single larger composition. Since we don't have a ready vocabulary for such newfangled craftsmanship, we have reverted to the language of needlework: sew, stitch, knit, quilt, and seam, as applied to the creation of digital photographic composites, as if the photographer was using a computer needle and thread to join together scraps of imagery.
Gefeller has also applied this same technique to more natural forms, getting underneath grape arbors and pear espaliers, capturing the spindly lines of branches, trellises and support netting, but removing central trunks and thick stocks. His images transform the organic into something geometric and almost mathematical, as if the growth has been meticulously laid out on graph paper. These works blur the lines between natural and manmade, where visual fact and constructed fiction mix on a variety of mind bending levels, without degenerating into overly easy optical trickery and obvious gimmicks.
All in, regardless of subject matter, Gefeller's newest works have a futuristic, controlled formality, showing us a set of calculated patterns that lie beneath the surface of our normal perception. His sleight of hand is convincing enough to be thought provoking, and the best of the works on view satisfyingly erase the defining lines between real and unreal.
My favorite image in the show was Poles 07, 2010; it's the middle image in the top installation shot. This particular work takes the ideas of this series and intensifies them, with even more wires, electrical transformers, and overhead light fixtures gathered in a dense, unruly tangle; it trades some of the simplicity of the other images for more muscular ordered chaos. (By the way, if you're specifically interested in wires and poles as subject matter, take a look at the relevant work of Osamu Kanemura and Frank Breuer). I also enjoyed Untitled (Runway), Hong Kong, 2004, in the back room; it's on the left in the bottom installation shot. What I like about this image is the disorienting sense of scale of the black landing area; the only clue to its actual size is the small tuft of grass in the bottom left hand corner.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
Andreas Gefeller, The Japan Series
Through May 14th
Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
537 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011