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Olaf Rauh, born in Leipzig in 1968, has quickly distinguished himself from the German photographers of the previous generation through the defiant use of photography, not as an objective medium, but rather as a method to express an imaginary world within a real environment.
A multimedia artist, Olaf Rauh currently favors the medium of photography. His photographic style is similar to that of a painter, in its sensitivity to the subject and in its formal search for beauty, which initially transgresses and transcends any concern for objectivity. This being said, it would be more accurate to compare Olaf Rauh to the painters Dan Hays, Carl Fudge, Benjamin Edwards, and Alex Brown. Rauh deconstructs the real, destroys it using new digital technologies and then recreates it using a sort of precarious balance between figurative and abstract. He completely integrates the visual revolution of our perception of the world to which new technologies have given rise.
In his process, Olaf Rauh makes a low-resolution image with the video function of the camera and compresses it. Then, he sets out to capture the fine grid structure of the computer screen by taking a photo using a large format camera, increasing the pixelated nature of his work. Finally, the photograph is then taken apart and put back together in pixels like a mathematical construction, creating unique out-of-focus images, colors, and geometric shapes.
First shown at our Paris gallery in 2004, his photographic series Playgrounds, shot on the lower east side in New York in fall 2001, is composed of 12 large format photos. His work causes us to soak up the precise colorimetric difference between the vibrant saturated colors used in these playful constructions and the grayness of their urban surroundings.
With Playgrounds, we are able, if we wish to participate in this visual contrast that divides these two worlds. Why does the world of play, for both children and adults, grab itself in flamboyant colors, while the working, urban world wears more neutrals and grays? Why is it that this brightness that we see in places like Las Vegas or on TV game shows, or even in a playground, is what is directly associated? Rauh invites us to examine these questions through raw, manipulated imagery. As Andreas Höll once noted about the series, “In Olaf Rauh’s works, photography has lost the last of its innocence; the aura of authenticity has faded. The artist is reacting to the optical implantations of the mass media culture with their manipulated imagery.”