I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
Everything is a question of perspective. The realisation that perspective influences perception, and ultimately our image of reality, is subtly reflected in Thomas Wrede’s photographs. Wrede creates new visual worlds that only exist through the photograph and in the photograph. In the interplay between staging and reality, truth and illusion, reality and fiction, these 'illusory worlds' demand a growing awareness of what we see and how we see. His images break our habits of perception that are shaped by expectations. At the same time, the photograph’s claim to reality is challenged.
In his most famous series, 'Real Landscapes', Wrede constructs scenes that present themselves to the viewer as impressive landscape images. The photographs show a moment of supposedly familiar reality, seemingly reproduced without any artificiality or staging. At first glance, the places seem real. But the illusion in his images is never absolute and so disconcerting fractures suddenly appear. The highly detailed miniature worlds of familiar architectural, street, and nature scenes seem strangely exposed in the real landscapes. This deception originates from blurring the boundaries of different levels of reality in the photo. The generally panoramic view evokes associations with Romantic painted landscapes.
Wrede reflects a longing for nature in his various series of works while asking questions about its representation in the media and its portrayal. In the series 'Wrapped Landscapes', these images of longing can be found in photographs of model railway trees, photographed inside their packaging in front of landscape backgrounds, as they are usually presented in model train accessory packs. The artist thus creates original picture-in-picture compositions, wondrous landscapes whose artificiality cannot be concealed.
Complex spaces are also created using the picture-in-picture technique in his series 'Domestic Landcapes'. Wrede photographed photographic wallpaper that used to be very common in German homes. The supposed outdoor views combine with the interior spaces and their furniture in an idiosyncratic way to create a new image overall.
Finally, the images in the 'Seascapes' series show real beach scenes. With a view into the distance and the endless expanse of the beaches, these panoramic pictures reflect the aesthetics of the sublime. At the same time they irritate us. People suddenly seem miniature in the virtually boundless natural space.
Reality or scenery? Thomas Wrede’s works show how reality and fiction can be merged. The magic of his photographs is due to a skilful interplay of perspective, light, and technical perfection.
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