ULRIKE KOLB | Hinter den Hügeln
Opening: Friday, 24 February 2012, 7 p.m.
Exhibition: 25 February - 24 March 2012
In her exhibition Hinter den Hügeln (Beyond the Hills) Ulrike Kolb presents photographic work from two consecutive series. At first glance the motifs could not be more different: atmospheric landscapes run into a functional architecture of dejection; diaphanous hoarfrost, reflecting waters, rising haze on hard edges, geometrical lines and contrasting surfaces; spacious panoramas of limited views.
Ulrike Kolb’s feeling for the beauty of specific landscapes, whether she photographs them in Bavaria, Brandenburg or South Africa, suggests it was groomed in the paintings of the Romantic or the Dutch School. Irrespective of how picturesque the sfumato of distant mountain ranges appears, how tender the green in groups of trees in the medium ground may seem or how scintillating the transparency of a lake in the forefront looks, these are in fact genuine photographs. Vital is the particular moment, a unique atmosphere, a lucky second, all of which are contained in the English word bliss. As this onomatopoeic word suggests, there is no bliss without tension. In Kolb’s landscapes it comes from civilizing cuts into the natural landscape: the cold turquoise strips of a swimming-pool, plastic buoys in water, a brick wall in front of a mountain panorama.
The series Im Haus der Stadt (In the City Building) is dominated by the vertical, by straight lines and surfaces, and by contrasting zones of light and shade. The architectural shapes and building materials displayed in fragments are both simple and functional, the places anonymous and unspectacular. By emphasizing the sculptural nature of stairs and doorways or the graphic impact of tiled floors, rows of windows and corrugated iron cladding, Ulrike Kolb’s framing gives these unassuming views an aesthetic quality. She succeeds in maintaining a balance between the abstract and the concrete, between the aestheticism of colour fields and the haptics of surfaces, whose traces of usage introduce a temporal dimension to the spatial arrangements.
Although initially both work series seem utterly different, they have a common denominator in exactness of composition, a subtlety of colour and a preciseness of framing. Ulrike Kolb’s main interest here is what happens when our three-dimensional world is banned to a two-dimensional surface. The outside shots o.T. (Landschaften) and Im Haus der Stadt pick up on earlier works by Kolb that centred on museum displays, postcard details or paper scenery. The nature of her experiment, however, is by no means educational. There is no finger-pointing at the viewer to remain alert and avoid surrendering to the seductive power of the images.