Box with five B/W photographies, chemical editing, coloured shading and one collage re-painted with varnish
Dimensions: 42 x 56 cm each
Signature, inscriptions, markings: each signed verso at lower right
Accession Number: 1001551.1–6
A professional photographer might be horrified by Johannes Brus' images, because the artist does not adhere to the norms of conventional photography. The prints disturb and inspire in equal measure. Deliberately blurred and shifted into the surreal, the still lifes force the viewer to see what is depicted in a new way. The ghostly still lifes pose a riddle. Their contours seem to blur in sweeping motion, so that they appear neither dead nor alive, partly because of the ghostly fog that surrounds them. They are still lifes, brought to life as if by a ghostly hand. Set tables emerge from the fog, scenes reminiscent of the Last Supper and the doctrine of transubstantiation. The uncanny and the impossible seem to come true. Brus uses complicated chemical and physical processes to alter the usual developing process or to colorize his photographs afterwards, thus alienating the images of the real world.The experimental use of the possibilities of blending and montage of negatives results in a painterly character.
"Brus is an artist who deals with photography like a painter. A painter (...) must first paint a painting, while the photographic image is always present a priori; whether as a potentially photographable appearance of empirical reality, or as its fixed image."1 The turbulence in image-making challenges the viewer to a different orientation in the chaos, through which he can see new connections. Karlheinz Nowald writes that Brus is interested in "ambiguities, additions of meaning, intersections, penetrations, destructions of the empirical, positivist image of reality, which dissolves and transforms under his gaze." The ghostly still lifes were a step toward the "dying hour of a pictorial genre that had drawn a kind of eternal life from the rigor mortis of its objects."2 Through the objects that become independent and float through space, and their surreal-mystical life of their own, he gives this genre a new drive. Brus, collaging and coloring, excitingly combines different media of the visual arts. As in painting, he processualizes photography and gives it his artistic fingerprint.
1 Klaus Honnef, Ein Abenteurer im Reiche des Sichtbaren. Zu den fotografischen Bildern von Johannes
Brus, in: Kat. der Ausst. Johannes Brus. Fotoarbeiten, Hrsg. Städtische Galerie Erlangen 1990, S. 103.
2 Kat. der Ausst. Johannes Brus – Arbeiten von 1971–1978, hrsg. v. Galerie Defet Nürnberg, Herten 1980, o. S.