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The gallery is open to the public (while maintaining social distancing rules) on Saturdays and Sundays from 9AM to 6PM until 4 September 2022.
From the etymological meaning of the word (abstrahare = to extract), any photograph could be called “abstract” for its purpose of producing a transcription. Doesn’t all photographic evidence, an extract from some portion of reality, paradoxically meet this definition of abstraction as a way of referencing what is real while also becoming free of it?
By 1916, Paul Strand had already produced his photograph Abstraction, Porch Shadows. Remember that abstraction in photography has undergone refinement through the avant-garde, the Bauhaus and subjective photography, to name only a few such highlights from photographic history.
Today, with the liberation of the medium, other realms of this means of surpassing the real are being explored by artists whom we might define as image plasticians rather than photographers in the conventional sense.
Creating wordplay with the words “really” and “abstract” and appending a question mark, the exhibition Really Abstract? interrogates, through the work of four artists, this relationship to reality and abstraction via the medium of photography.
|Jessica Backhaus, a rising star of German contemporary photography, pushes experimentation to the point of abstraction, as we can see in her most recent series Cut Outs. The play of colour, reflections and translucence starts with an everyday object, evolving into small scenes in which the main element is a cut out of a photo or a collection of colourful paper. What is unique is the way she photographs – using film, against a coloured background, changing the elements and the composition like a painter working from an artist’s palette.|
|In contrast to the colourful world of Backhaus, the Luxembourg artist Laurianne Bixhain shows our technological world in a back-and-white vision stuck out of time. In her series On the Other End, she evokes our relationship to the world around us with keen sensitivity to detail. The subjects, of little inherent importance, are a pretext for this choice of gelatin-silver photographic writing with its singular end result.|
|Using a different register, the Nightsky photographs of German artist Peter Granser stand in contrast with realist photography of hyper-urbanised Chinese cities in the series Heaven in Clouds. These large-format abstract photographs of lights that blend into one another, evoking hope by association, are a testament to the aesthetic force of colour, but also raise the question of the referent. If we know that these lights shine from LED ad displays and that the poetic blending of colour is due in part to air pollution, the abstract image necessarily brings us back to an awareness of reality.|
|With Particles, Luxembourg artist Boris Loder presents a series of images of his own sculptures, created in order to be photographed. The cubes composed of found objects creatively retrace the identity of different districts of Luxembourg City. Here, the urban real meets the social and relational in a unique strain of assemblage. Like small urban still lifes, these photographs deconstruct the narrative of the everyday.|
Are these photographs really abstract? It remains to be seen, and will depend on how viewers define these terms for themselves.
(text: Paul di Felice)