Johannes Kahrs
Germany, 1965
Kahrs’ paintings may start from a photograph, a film still, a picture from the press, or some other such image. These fragments from diverse sources are reinterpreted, taken out of the context of their original meaning, and turned into fictions. They serve as a blurry, ghostly ground that the artist transforms into paintings of non-reality, seeking ambiguity in the messages conveyed, which despite their origin are not aimed at denouncing any wrong. Kahrs is interested in the problems of representation that arise from Cézanne’s ideas about the artistic vision, which differs from what is real. Photography and video are therefore models for reproducing reality on the canvas. This involves upsetting and inverting the established order of media, reproducing pixelation and other qualities of digital images with the artist’s brush. What is painted is not a copy of a television screen; it is like the eye that perceives. His large-format paintings and diptychs, including Untitled (Deserted Flat), present us with disturbing images that never sit easy with the viewer. In each case we are confronted with an isolated moment from a story, without any contextual information or clues as to its provenance. Kahrs heightens the impact of the resulting image by using a cool palette that reflects his predilection for shades of gray and mauve. Over time he has moved beyond his fascination with film images (particularly those from horror movies), large formats, and aggressive colours, gradually shifting towards softer subjects and a gentler palette. He has also reduced the scale of his paintings and substituted close-up partial portraits for pilfered images. In any case, the artist’s images remain as disturbing as ever.
Virginia Torrente

Artworks by the artist included in the Collection Artworks by the artist included in the Collection

  • Untitled (Deserted Flat) / 2004