BERLIN.- Kunsthandel Jörg Maaß
presents the first European solo-exhibition of the photographer Charles Johnstone, born in 1952 in New York. Color photographs from Johnstone's Havana 2006 series, covering the years 2006-2007, will be on view. In the upcoming year, Johnstone's Havana project will be included in the group exhibition, Cuban Avant-garde Art, at the Katonah Museum of "Art in New York".
Johnstone is a self-taught photographer. He has acknowledged a variety of influences such as Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, William Christenberry, Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Luigi Ghirri and Ed Ruscha. Of special interest is the importance of Edward Hopper for Johnstone's work: his sophisticated play of light, the strong, geometric flat forms, and the profound sense of alienation and loneliness.
Johnstone's photographs from Havana are taken with a 6 x 6 cm camera and this square format has ultimately become his signature. Johnstone's work differentiates itself from the requisite Cuban motives: here there are no nostalgic, romanticized images of imposing, classic American cars and luminous facades of one-time magnificent Colonial-style buildings, on which the plaster is now peeling.
Particularly significant in Johnstone's work is the precisely calculated composition required by the format of the square, with an emphasis on the vertical and horizontal, intersecting lines, bordering fields of shadows and color contrasts. In this way, Johnstone provokes a moment of inner calm.
People, however, do not appear in his images. He is interested instead in gas stations, basketball courts, deserted cars and areas such as abandoned playgrounds or public swimming pools, which are normally full of life. It is here he records his extremely personal impression of Havana: a lonely, deserted city, whose cumulative decay slowly advances. Johnstone does not want to influence our view of Havana, rather his sober images, which are free from emotion, enable us to see and interpret the city through our own eyes.
The exhibition will also include a selection of works from Johnstone's artist colleagues.