Hamburg - Tomas Erhart: Deconstructive Nudes
« Adieu ma Belle » Berlin, 2005 © Tomas Erhart
« Body Scan I » Berlin, 2012 © Tomas Erhart
« BOUND III » Berlin, 2004 © Tomas Erhart
« Mixed I » Berlin, 2004 © Tomas Erhart
« Pam » Berlin, 2007 © Tomas Erhart
« Pass me the Light » Berlin, 2008 © Tomas Erhart
« Sasha I » Berlin, 2006 © Tomas Erhart
« Sasha I » Berlin, 2006 © Tomas Erhart
« Sequenz I » Berlin, 2008 © Tomas Erhart
« Sequenz III_II » Berlin, 2008 © Tomas Erhart
« Sequenz V_VI » Berlin, 2008 © Tomas Erhart
« The Verdict » Berlin, 2006 © Tomas Erhart
« White Blur » Berlin, 2008 © Tomas Erhart
“I believe in the magic of fantasy”
The exhibition “Deconstructive Nudes” shows unpublished pictures of Tomas Erhart from 2000 to 2010. This is an interview about angles, sexual freedom and the secret of blurring.
Mr. Erhart, the exhibited photos were all taken with a simple digital camera. Why?
15 years ago, more or less, I bought my first Canon IXUS. Originally, because I needed to take pictures for my location survey. I quickly discovered the potential, especially the extreme ones: I ‘ve never liked flash light very much, and at that time I went out at night a lot. So I wanted to know what effect a 3 second exposure might create. Back then, the IXUS was already able to do that. That‘s how my affinity for the blurring effect of soft focus developed.
Are your pictures snap-shots or staged?
My pictures are situational: they are snap-shots with a an authentic dynamic. You can‘t create pictures like that as a still life. They would loose their authenticity. The way they come out of the camera is how they are put on the wall later on. I find the mise-en-scene eroticism, that is displayed in the usual mens magazines, dreadful. I don‘t want to force my models into a pose.
Who are the women in your pictures?
Most of them belong to my wider set of acquaintances. To me Berlin is the most liberal city in the world. You meet nakedness and sexuality everywhere. It was easy to find models because people live a more liberated life in Berlin than anywhere else – they are also sexually more liberated.
Between the end of the 1990s and 2010 you took more that 20.000 pictures. What were you selective criteria for the exhibition?
All the exhibits belong to my long-term project "5pm“. The photos were taken during the Noughties. In order to make a choice I opened my digital archive and sifted through it. It felt like an expedition to my beginnings. When I first took up photography I had a different approach: more provocative, straightforward, more explicit. It felt right then. But today, with a few years gone by, I like pictures I would not have chosen then.
You grew up in a small mountain village in the very Catholic part of Bavaria. You took your A levels at a convent school. Do you think that might be a reason for being highly interested in nakedness and sexuality?
You can‘t shake off your past. I grew up deeply rooted in Catholicism. It sticks for life - even though I left for Los Angeles right after my A levels to study film. My move to Berlin at the end of the 1990s was another radical break with my upbringing. That‘s the period of my life in which these pictures were taken. Friends came to me and said, „Come on! You‘ve got to show these pictures to somebody!“ That was a huge step for me. Before my first exhibition in 2004, I couldn‘t make up my mind . The photos were very personal . Today, I think differently about them. The distance between then and now helped me see the art in these works.
In addition to your large formats, you exhibit for the first time works that you created with photoshop. The title of this series is „Sequenzen“ (sequences). Why this new technique?
A few years ago I repeatedly took pictures of the same motif, I took about 100 pictures. After that, I cut out the pictures with scissors and glued them together. I wanted to take pictures of the collage in order to create new pictures. But the quality suffered too much. That‘s why I started to look into photoshop. The experience was very similar to my experience with my first digital camera: a new world presented itself to me! I was able to create my own new approach towards collage. On one level I take pictures of sequences so they become a series, but I combine them with a second level - one on top of the other: I take two transparent slides, put one above the other, and create a new picture that has nothing to do with either of the originals.
In "Sequenzen“ the sexual is almost suspended, despite the well-known motifs...
The play on the changing perception of the same motif fascinates me. "Deconstructive Nudes“ is about tension between closeness and distance. I feel, I am artistically moving away from naturalism towards expressionism. Colours, shapes and structures interest me now. Behind these there is only the illusion of something. Even some of my large formats have become so abstract that only emotion is conveyed.
How important is the aspect of formality in your work?
I am 100% formalist! I think in concepts. But once the frame in which I want to work artistically is found, I am free and my work becomes intuitive.
You are a highly acclaimed cinematographer, nationally and internationally. Is there a connection between your work on the set and your work as an artist?
When I was 14 I wanted a camera for my confirmation. I went berserk with my camera until my mid-twenties, taking pictures of everything. Becoming successful in the film business, the same happened again. My whole life was exclusively about cinematography. Perhaps there is one similarity between the two: if you film something with 35mm and look at the film strip the single shots are blurry, although the whole sequence as a film is in focus. That‘s what you find in my pictures, too. I prefer to tell stories, in film and in photography. I don‘t like to create single pictures. I want my pictures to convey a dynamic, on the temporal level and in the actual physical movement. I like the blur in everything. And I strongly believe in the magic of fantasy.
Interview: Linda-Luise Bickenbach
Tomas Erhart « Deconstructive Nudes »
June 12th – August 15th, 2012
Inner Circle Consultants
Editions, realisation, formats and prices:
eight-colour pigment prints on Hahnemühle deckle-edge paper, aluminium-laminated (2mm)
Front signed /3rd edition
109 x 145cm
Lambda c-prints on Kodak Endura paper, in diasec (3mm acrylic glass)
Last page signed / 7th edition
Various formats - Other formats than those exhibited are possible but only for editions 3 and 7