Solo Exhibition / Artist Talk
»HOLI – Color Flow«
Exhibition: March 9 – 26, 2016 (Facebook Event)
Finissage & Artist Talk (held in German): Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 19h
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 14-18h, Sat 11-14h, and by appointment
After their premiere at this year’s “ART Karlsruhe” in Germany, Galerie Westphal Berlin will be showing the new group of large-format works by Berlin-based photographer André Wagner (born in 1980 in Chemnitz, Germany), entitled “Holi – Color Flow”, from March 9th to 26th.
The “Play of Colors” (Holi) was already being celebrated 5000 years ago by Krishna along with his associate Radha and the other cowherd girls at the sacred place of Vrindavana, India. Wagner has been traveling to India on a regular basis since 2004; using his camera, he has been “writing down” the stories of the people and their sacred places.
Today, Holi has become a festival known all over the world, taking place annually on the day of the full moon during the month of Phalguna (February/March). The “Festival of Colors” is one of the oldest in India, during which people throw color pigments at each other. It marks the beginning of spring, but also symbolizes the removal of boundaries between castes, genders, ages, and social statuses.
The artist’s current series of photographs show his intensive involvement with the culture of India and its diverse religions, an association that already spans more than ten years. In the course of innumerable trips, he has developed his intuition for and understanding of the country and its realities, which stand in stark contrast to European concepts.
However, his eyes do not look for the foreign; instead, he documents that which is common, and connects the things he has found and experienced during his journeys and encounters with people. Wagner is not shy when it comes to intense physical work; for example, marching with pilgrims to understand their cultural and topographical realm.
This special atmosphere in Wagner’s photographs has already been compared to the Magical Realism of the 1920s, which blended palpable, rational reality with magical reality such as hallucinations and dreams. Wagner has developed a “third reality”, a synthesis of the realities we are familiar with.
The most important artistic means by which this is achieved is the light staging in the works. Often, the artist photographs during nighttime, as in the work “Pilgrims at Govardhan” (2014), or in relation to the architecture, as with the open vaults of the temple complex in “Pilgrim Family” (2011).
At times, the light appears as a beam, or scattered like a picturesque Chiaroscuro à la Leonardo as in “Coming Back from Yamuna River” (2011). In this piece, the veiled women, in their gorgeous garbs, ascend the steps from the holy river. The almost physically perceivable enigmatic feature of this work is created by the depiction of time, in which the pilgrims step forward from darkness to light as in a performance. Only then do they become tangible in the atmosphere. Also, in the works from the series “Radha Raman Temple” (2014), which capture the intensely colorful throwing of pigments during the famous Indian Festival of Colors (Holi), time, emerging from light and movement, becomes the essential element of the composition.
In 2013, at the Venice biennial, Wagner presented the work “Coming Back from Yamuna River”. In the same year, he had two solo exhibitions at the “Kunst Zürich”, where he was nominated for the Zurich Advancement Art Award. In 2014, during a solo exhibition at the “Photokina”, he showed selected pieces from his monograph “Visions of Time” (publishing house: “Distanz Verlag”).
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