Peter Schlör, Reventón, 2011, Finart-Pigmentprint / Diasec, 80 x 116 cm, Edition 6 + 2 EA
Peter Schlör's new works reveal a pictorial approach. The artist uses natural phenomena - the ocean, clouds and forests - in order to attain a picturesque surface in his images. The various structures and characteristics accumulate to form scenes with an almost abstract flair to them. In these works Schlör liberates himself from the documentary element of photography and turns his attention towards questions of content and aesthetics.
In order to take his pictures, Peter Schlör waits for the moment when nature appears to offer a perfect composition for the artist to develop into an image. On one hand, he's intrigued by the power of nature, which he strives to capture; on the other hand, these moments are selected so that they seem to be similar to the stroke of a painter's brush. The rather puffy voluminousness of the clouds in some of his pictures is elaborated through the precise use of light. Veils of clouds and misty fog that conjure up a poetical and often mythic impression are used contrastively in juxtaposition to the sharp contours of forests and cliffs.
The removal of color abstracts the motif from its reality and accentuates the significance of the language of forms. The images are thus no longer copies of nature, but rather compositions of various effects of surfaces. One can thus associate Schlör with the tradition of pictorialism, to which photographers like Alfred Stieglitz belonged. In his "Equivalents" from 1922 Stieglitz defended himself against the criticism that his motifs alone determined the strengths of his photographs. This series, encompassing more than 200 works, shows cloud formations in the sky that, in their form, escape classification as objects. These works are considered the first photographs that can be classified as abstract art, and they placed new demands upon photography. During his career Stieglitz was often compared with impressionist painters.
Schlör's crystal clear photographs of airy veils of clouds are reminiscent of works by the British impressionist William Turner. The monumental cloud formations can have just as diffuse and vague an effect as Turner's storm-tossed sea. The paradoxical thing is that Schlör has created his diffuse effect with high-definition photography. With this medium, for which exactness is particularly characteristic, Schlör even manages to attain the impression of a pastose application of color. The various structures of trees and rock faces are melded together like individual layers so that they blend into a single picture. The black and white in Schlör's photos accentuate his extraordinary sensitivity to light - something also admired in Turner's works. The at times very subtle transition from brightness to darkness and the
equally present abrupt contrasts between them create a strong formal language. Schlör thus overcomes the prevalence of the motif and makes his position as artistic and creator clear.
Peter Schlör found the appropriate setting for his works on the Canary Islands. In their almost untouched landscapes, the photographer experiences moments of unspoilt nature.
Magical and mystical moments as well as dramatic and powerful scenes are played out there. Schlör shows nature as a mysterious and powerful essence; man, however, does not appear. Using the resources of digital photographic technology he captures the particularly delicate effects of light on the islands and constructs with them a contemplative contrast to the dominance of colorful pop and advertising photography. He transports the romanticism of nature back into the modernized world and thus renders a timelessness visible that can only be discovered by consciously pausing to take it in.
Accompanying the exhibition, the recently published monograph "BLACK & WIDE" (published by Kehrer/Heidelberg) will also be available.
Text: Dana Weschke, Munich (translation: B.Poole)