We are very pleased to announce “Landscapes”, an exhibition by photographer Chris Engman and the first part of our Berlin – L.A. trilogy. Following an invitation by 68projects, Engman (*1978, lives and works in L.A.) worked in Berlin for two months during the summer of 2015. The result is an impressive series of photos, which once again questions the connection between image and reality and thus exposes our conventional seeing habits. The works from his Berlin studio are juxtaposed with photos taken on the West coast of the US, many of them in the desert.
At the origin of Chris Engman’s work there is an idea, a concept and in-depth research. Themes immanent to photography, such as time, transience, light and the question concerning the possibility of reproducing reality, are central to his work. Here the artist primarily works with deception, illusion and the irritation of the spectator. In the piece “Three Squares” (2006), only one of the depicted squares is actually a square, the other two being a rectangle and a trapezium respectively; the illusion is due to the positioning of the camera.
Chris Engman’s latest work “Landscape for Candace” was created in the summer of 2015 in his Kreuzberg studio. The title refers to Candace “Caddy” Compson, a character from Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury”. The novel uses a complex narrative structure, based on the inner monologues of three narrators, to recount the decline of a once-powerful Southern family. Engman’s work is similarly multi-layered. It shows a view of an artist’s studio, with a tree in the center. Only on closer inspection it becomes clear that this is an illusionistic construction of a room. The eye is hardly able to identify which elements in the room are “real” and which have been assembled and re-photographed from photocopies – such as the tree for example.
Whereas in this latest series, the artist’s studio is at the centre of his creations, Engman’s earlier works were produced during long drives to deserted places in the countryside along the US west coast, places he refers to as “settings”, or “empty canvasses” – free from disruptive associations and interpretations. These temporary interventions and sculptures were elaborately assembled, yet were made of the simplest building materials, such as sand, plywood, rope or concrete stone. As soon as the photographical work was completed, the installations were abandoned and left to their own devices.
Chris Engman studied photography at the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. His works have been exhibited at numerous exhibitions in the US and in Europe. The artist is represented in many notable collections, such as the Houston Fine Arts Museum, the Henry Art Gallery,Seattle;theInesMusumeciGrecocollection,Rome; theMicrosoftCollection,Seattle;theManfred Leist collection, Munich, and the Sir Elton John collection, London.
Part II of the Berlin/L.A. trilogy will be a solo show by L.A. painter Michael John Kelly, who participated in the 68projects studio programme in Berlin in the late summer of 2015. The series will be completed in February / March 2016 with a group exhibition by several artists, who took part in a residency programme in Los Angeles, and whose work explores the Californian metropolis.