LONDON.- Atlas Gallery
announced its first collaboration with German photographer Frauke Eigen. For her debut London exhibition, the gallery presents Shoku, her latest project inspired by recent visits to Japan. Rich, silver gelatin prints capture the concealed minimal qualities of Japanese architecture, nature and people displaying a subtle interplay between them. There is a strong emphasis on surface texture, whether it be the photographers careful study of formal grids on a prefabricated structure or a close-up view of a young womans soft, rounded cheek. Harmonious compositions, rhythmic contrasts and fine shades of grey characterize the clear black and white photographs.
Frauke Eigen reduces her subjects to the simplest forms, often to the point of abstraction. Although she searches for harmony and symmetry, she is not afraid to embrace imperfections. The found symmetry is often subjected to disruptions, irregularities in the lighting, warps in the metal, breakages and confrontation with nature. This sense of pushing the images towards abstraction integrates her subjects. The graceful curve of a womans breast in one photograph, Kanpeki, perfectly compliments the meandering crack in a pane of glass in another, Yushima. The juxtaposition of the geometry in building facades with the organic fluidity of nature, such as a delicate blossom tree, is striking. In this way, Eigen infuses formal lines with softness and finds structures in natural forms. In the diptych Daimon I and Daimon II, the metal structure appears almost like felt.
Eigen deliberately decides what small section of the scene she will present. She focuses in close to reveal detailed extracts. For example, Erimoto is a portrait of a woman wearing a kimono but all we see is the neckline and a detail of the robe. We become aware of the textures of the skin alongside the patterns and sculptural folds of the rich fabrics. In another portrait, Kuchi, Eigen has cropped the image above the girls nose. This portrait without eyes is a powerful visual statement. Features such as the mouth become elegant abstract forms. This approach also alludes to her experiences of a very different culture to her own, never knowing, always observing from a certain distance.
Eigen uses super-matt photographic paper and a Japanese technique of laminating the prints with rice starch. This method emphasizes the subtle nuances in the surface textures. The size of the prints is also important; Eigen creates one size for a particular image and carefully considers the scale for each piece. There is a sense of ease and placidity to the work, a gentle rhythm leads the viewer from one print to the next, always balanced, always serene, an aesthetic of simplicity akin to Zen.
My experience of Japan taught me that its a country with dignity and one that is respectful of others. The people there are very attentive and very observant. I experienced beauty in Japan that stirred me to tears. Ive only ever had that reaction before to music and art. (Frauke Eigen, 2009)
Frauke Eigen was born in Aurich, Germany, in 1969. She studied photography at the Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design and Fine Arts at the Royal College of Art in London. Eigen began her career as a photojournalist working in Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Mexico and the Ukraine. Inspired more by painters than photographers, Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, Franz Gertsch and Kasimir Malevich have been influential. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and Shoku most recently at the Langen Foundation in Germany. She lives and works in Berlin.