»The Alchemy of Colour«
In his second solo exhibition at pavlov’s dog Alexander Gehring explores the relationship between photography and alchemy. To what extent are they still effective today? Alchemists constantly tried to understand nature and its immanent processes and to use the acquired knowledge to intervene in those procedures. The idea to transmute elements is part of it. That wasn’t limited to attempting to create gold, but established the reputation as an occult science, as it still is today.
There are mysterious moments in the processes of analogue photography, too. Something visible originates from an invisible image (the latent image) – a reflection of nature and the world. The analogies of alchemy and photography can be experienced in the photo lab. Thus, many people, who marvel at the development of an image on paper in the developing tray for the first time, describe that moment as „magical“. In both cases the use of chemicals, metals and salts starts chemical reactions, that provoke the conversion from invisible to visible and create something new. The darkroom is the core of each photo lab: a mystical space, for insiders only, who know and follow the laws and rules of the space – nothing else than a temple of a secret society.
Alexander Gehring’s approach is playful and questions analogue photography. His subjects stay enigmatic and use alchemistic imagery: the elements of nature, their colors and physical states. The frequently used color of red builds a bridge. The red light of the darkroom is also a symbol of the alchemists. Red was the color of colors in alchemy. Amongst others this can be traced back to ruby glass, that was discovered in alchemist experiments. It is still valued today – just as analogue photography.
Berlin-based artist Alexander Gehring (*1981, Bielefeld) studied photography and new media at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and London College of Communication. His work has been exhibited at Aperture Gallery in New York, Museum Morsbroich, Warte für Kunst in Kassel, Galeria Tagomago in Paris and The Camera Club of New York amongs others. He was the recipient of the Merck Award of Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie in 2016.
Editor’s note: view more of Alexander’s work on his PiB Portfolio.