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Haus am Kleistpark : Manfred Paul : The Long Journeys


Renowned for his work in East Germany, Manfred Paul has also traveled the world to show a plurality of human existences from which arise timeless and poetic images.

Romania, India and Paris…Three journeys and different facets of Manfred Paul who share the same desire to dive into realities other than his own. This exacerbated curiosity leads him to the meeting of cultures with an anchored identity, he photographs the humans and the signs that make it in reports that connect these universes like bridges. Despite decades of practice, the metaphorical language of the German photographer born in 1942 remains until today in the shadows of the contemporary photographic landscape.

Take away oblivion

During his trip to Romania in 1978, Manfred Paul immortalized snippets of an era that would soon no longer exist. Like the incarnation of passing time, the portraits of young children confront those of their ancestors. Modest everyday life, worn clothes, youth put to the test of reality, alcohol and cigarettes as wanderings… The smiles on their lips resonate with the trials that certain gazes, pointed towards the objective, cannot lie. Classical and precise compositions that tell of a time that is hard and infinitely tender at the same time, where existences are conditioned by an ineradicable social determinism. Manfred Paul evokes this past with melancholy and preserves the women and men whose path he crossed from the erosion of thought.

Visual Memories

Lovers behind the window of a restaurant, a young man reading his newspaper with a cigarette between his fingers, a woman enjoying her ice cream on the terrace, Sunday dancers on the Quais de Scène, a man who takes care of pigeons in Luxembourg… From Paris in 1988, Manfred Paul captures fleeting moments of daily life. At the bend of intersecting streets, through the windows of cafes, in the heart of zebra crossings, he captures all these details evoking a certain sweetness of life. The diverted faces and the singular points of view participate in subtly erasing the border between dream and reality. A dreamlike dimension that crystallizes the images of shop windows where the effect of double exposure provided by the reflection of the glass confuses the plastic mannequins inside the shops with the outside world. These discreet street photographs of Paul seem to reveal a fascination for certain motifs whose recurrence anchors a Parisian idea while freeing itself from any temporal frame. With his foreign eye, the German flâneur captures the silhouettes, fixes the determined steps and celebrates romanticism with shots where the most trivial elements take on an allegorical power.

Form(s) of humanity

On his way to India in 1989, Manfred Paul rubs shoulders with a completely different kind of existence that his sensitive gaze manages to capture with modesty. This trip takes him to cross the plain of the Ganges, to explore the small towns and to cross the countryside. He then discovers a way of life and a relationship to existence that had hitherto been foreign to him. From this colorful India, Manfred Paul captures in monochrome what grabs him in his path: a cow devoured by vultures in several stages, the children who rush after school and those who live in the street, the eternal male meetings and always , those evocative little things and those piercing looks in which you can read stories.

Noémie de Bellaigue


“Manfred Paul : The long journeys – Photographs from Romania, India, Paris”
until May 31, 2023
Haus am Kleistpark
Grunewald str. 6/7, 10823 Berlin

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