With the artist Thomas Wrede (born 1963 in Iserlohn), the Von der Heydt Kunsthalle shows a photographer who occupies a singular position within the current photographic art. The comprehensive overview of his work reveals connections and developments from the early analog black and white works to today’s digital images. Wrede reflects the longing for nature with the means of photography. At the same time he questions the reality of photography.
At the beginning of the 1990s, a landfill on the Danish island of Samsö produced dark photographs of a dying landscape whose surface was disfigured by agricultural plastic tracks. Wrede shows here as well the terrible and the picturesque of this plastic worked landscape. In 1994, in large-format black-and-white works, he traces the most deadly impact of birds on window panes, which, like spirit beings, seem to float between here and hereafter, between moment and infinity.
Another photographic topic of Thomas Wrede is the question of the picture in the picture. This can be seen explicitly in the photographs of photo wallpapers in German homes (Domestic Landscapes, 2000-2001) and the large billboards in the street canyons of New York (Manhattan Picture Worlds, 2002-2007). His analogue colour photographs appear today like digital montages and demonstrate a skilful interplay of the classical means of perspective, time and objective.
After Thomas Wrede addressed the irritating artificiality of German amusement park landscapes as early as 1997 in his Magic Worlds series, in 2005 he revisits the boundary between model and reality in the Real Landscapes. In his large-format colour photographs, the world is portrayed as a kind of model kit, as a large-scale production on a small scale, between idyll and catastrophe. Simple toy cars and small plastic model houses are placed on the beaches of the North Sea islands and in sand pits so that a puddle creates a lake and a heap of mountains a mountain. The vast, empty landscape becomes the stage of his pictorial inventions, evoking associations with American road movies and quiet, romantic paintings.
Wrede’s photographic works deal with the boundaries between real, unreal, surreal, and ultimately with the game of truth and fiction. At the same time, the medium of photography reflects on itself. In his multi-layered photographs, Thomas Wrede lets stories about our relationship to nature emerge, ironically or factually, amusingly or dramatically.
The exhibition catalogue has been published by Kehrer Verlag. Texts by Gerhard Finckh and Günther Kebeck.
Von der Heydt-Kunsthalle
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 4-6, 42275 Wuppertal, Germany
May 27, 2018 to August 26, 2018