Hans-Peter Feldmann, l’iconophile
Hans-Peter Feldmann has been collecting all kinds of images since his childhood. These images were for example from lucky dip bags, cut out from all kinds of printed sources, his own photographs, and more recently anonymous paintings, without any hierarchy. This huge collection provides the raw material for his work, based on assemblage or inventory processes, in the form of series, installations and publications. His very first works, pop art paintings which reproduce found images and book covers, already incorporate magazine clippings on the back of the canvas. But from 1968 onwards, with the publication of modest, self-produced thematic compilations under the generic title of Bilderhe radicalised Pop Art by adopting the media medium itself, the printed page. A pioneer of artist books, he started his "world of paper" like this. While it reflects the image-saturated public sphere, the treatment of the reproductions gives them an unsettling silence and quasi-neutrality that contrasts with the noise of the media. For those who are familiar with Feldmann's world, the selected motifs are linked to his personal interests (knees, birds, footballers, seas, shoes, etc.) and a particular aesthetic also emerges, paradoxically, since his series seem to be devoid of any meaning and accurately transcribe the iconographic conventions of decorative posters (Sonntagsbilder), magazine illustrations, amateur photography, mail calendars, etc. The displays even imitate domestic practices: images simply pinned to the wall, small frames to be placed on the mantelpiece, and books that reproduce the traditional photo album.
The artist seems to want to mask his subjectivity enabling viewers to make their own interpretations, but a tenderness for these uses will be detected, the most familiar with photography. There is humour too, but even in the most trivial or kitschy practices, there is never irony. It is only perceptible in his defiance of artistic norms, the status of the work and, in certain circumstances, the very form of the exhibition. Thus, in 1974, he sent the contacts of his gallerist, Paul Maenz, a calendar illustration every month (eleven out of twelve to each recipient, to avoid the penchant for a complete series). In 1996, when the Vleeshal in Middelburg invited him, he proposed to exhibit work by any local artist who wished to participate. During the Skulptur Projekte Münster 2007, he chose to exhibit in public toilets... He challenges all the conventions that govern art objects to link them to life, "normal life" as he likes to say.
Before his images, already seen or like those we encounter daily, which shape our mental representation of the world, we proceed by recognition, sometimes by re-contextualisation, but above all by associations. We spontaneously establish a dialogue between the photographs we see, and the countless others stored in our brains. In turn, we appropriate them in a very particular way, we link the public domain to the private sphere. Even when confronted with Feldmann's most personal images, taken among his family and friends, we succumb to the tendency to compare them with our own iconographic stock. Each interpretation becomes idiosyncratic and is renewed with each iteration. Isolated from any commentary, the image appears for itself. It reveals the codes of the register to which it belongs or surprises us, it moves us, and fills us with wonder at the inexhaustible diversity of living things and the beauty of everyday life (One pound of strawberries, photographed one by one).
The artist's fascination with images is not without an analytical and even political dimension. The book Die Toten, published in 1998, for which he returned to self-publishing even though he was now being courted by publishers, chronologically reproduces a journalistic image of every person killed in an action linked to left-wing terrorism in Germany since 1967, without any immediate distinction between the actors of violence and the victims, whether direct or accidental. Only the name and date of death appear below the photograph. This collection, which required three years of research, has given rise to much controversy, but the archival work has proved to be an unprecedented retrospective document in the eyes of historians; for the artist, a reflection on death and the images, of unsuspected diversity, which serve to communicate it. In 2000, he convinced the editor of the Viennese weekly magazine Profil to publish an issue without any text, while keeping the exact layout of the illustrations, thereby freeing them from language. Issued on 7th February, when the extreme right came to power, Profil ohne Worte was perceived as a statement of position, an indignation that suspends speech. Silence is commentary!
Hans-Peter Feldmann believes that words drain the work, and he wanted his art to be as laconic as possible, except for the language that becomes an image, such as short texts framed like family photos, mini-performances in which he suggests an imagined image by means of a phrase addressed to a person, or brief narratives with strong iconic potential. Forgive these few notes, but it must be said that the entire work stimulates both personal narrative and the desire to share.
Catherine Mayeur (rédaction du texte)
Hans-Peter Feldmann was born in Düsseldorf in 1941. These are the only details that he feels are important to communicate to help situate his career. He has always detested artistic curricula vitae, as they do not contain any other useful information for the viewer and are like a list of achievements. Rather than a list of exhibitions and awards, he would prefer to share the titles of the films or books he has loved. He has also photographed his library on a 1:1 scaleBücherregal, 2002).
In 1979, he decided to leave the art world, objecting to the speculation that had been introduced into the art trade and the tendency to neglect the political concerns of the art projects of the previous two decades. In 1989, Kasper König persuaded him to exhibit again. However, he refused to sign or do limited editions of his works. For him, artistic creation should not be separate from other activities in life.
Vernissage public le 18 avril à 18h
Press preview : 18.04 dès 11h