First published on 14 June 2018
Galerie nächst St. Stephan | James Welling on his exhibition - Metamorph
JAMES WELLING: Metamorph (LOGIN)
10 May–17 June, 2017
Internationally, James Welling is one of the most keenly experimental photographers who has created a most diverse series of works. Fascinated by aesthetic, conceptual and material challenges of the medium he works with black and white photography, photograms, colour photography, handmade filters, and he was an early embracer of digital photography and through this explores the colour potential of Photoshop and ink-jet printing.
Welling originally studied painting, and motivated by Merce Cunningham's Dance Company, modern dance for a year in Pittsburgh. He graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles and initially produced sculptures, videos and paintings before concentrating on photography. In the 'Choreograph' series, which the video displayed in LOGIN is based on, these performative and painterly beginnings, along with questions concerning sculpture and the body in space can be seen overlapping with Welling's photographic experiences in MoMA New York's sculpture garden, and his photographs of architecture by Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson and others.
'Taking black-and-white photographs of landscapes, dance performances, and architecture, shot himself or by his assistants, he transformed them in Photoshop's red, green, and blue colour channels before uniting them in unexpected amalgams. (…) Welling now took the photo¬graphic option of merging layers of time to a new level with the technical integration of images he or his assistants had collected with their cameras or mobile phones. In addition to this, he produced further material visiting some dozen dance companies in Los Angeles, Ottawa, and New York. This collage of various fields of interest and influence allows Welling to once again open up new channels, reactivating fields he had already touched upon, such as architecture and landscape, as they encounter the, for him, hitherto photographically unexplored territory of dance. (…) Persistently layering and cross-fading his own personal history, Welling's work manifests itself as a structurally open and dynamic archive about photography, as a medium with parameters similar to human memory that continually reformulates the presence it touches upon. Welling invites us into the gaping vacuum between painting and photography, and he allows us to explore the space between the subject and the image, as well as the space between the self and the other.' (Heike Eipeldauer)
Our exhibition in the LOGIN, his 5th solo presentation in the gallery, accompanied James Welling's extensive body of work on show at Kunstforum Wien, Vienna from May 5–July 16, 2017. The quotes are taken from the exhibition catalogue pages 117 and 123.
JAMES WELLING born in 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut, lives and works in New York City. He participated in the documenta IX in Kassel, in 1992 and the Whitney Biennial, New York City, in 2008. In 2000, the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio organised a major survey of his work, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.