Jochen Lempert
Germany, 1958
Back
Jochen Lempert (Moers, West Germany, 1958) takes photographs that explore the animal and natural worlds and question the way we perceive our environment. Before venturing into the world of the visual arts in the nineties, he trained as a biologist at the University of Bonn, acquiring a scientific viewpoint that has played a key role in his career as an artist. His fascination with nature goes hand in hand with another core interest: exploring the physical properties of the photographic image. Representations of the animal world and the materiality of the image are at the very heart of how he understands photography. Half subjective artistic creation and half objective documentary, Lempert’s work analyses and redefines a wide range of natural species and phenomena (animals, plants, ocean waves, insects, clouds, volcanoes…), as well as the educational and popular-science environments created by our culture (zoos, natural history museums…), in a quest to reveal and question our urge to interpret what we see—a defining characteristic of human perception and thought. Driven by our insatiable need to understand everything around us, we search endlessly for signs and symbols that will let us understand—and control and dominate—reality. Eschewing this urge to control the world, Lempert follows other creative paths to read the environment. His model comes closer to capturing the random character of nature and is open to other, more intuitive possibilities that it can use to blur the rigid lines between art and nature, artifice and fact. In addition to his subject matter, another distinctive feature of his photographs is the meticulous analogue developing process he uses in his laboratory and his distinctive way of presenting photographs in an exhibition space. This way of working creates continuous systems for classifying and arranging images, where the artist takes apparently arbitrary decisions free from any justification (the size of the pieces, the relationship between them, the lack of frames, the use of black and white), giving rise to a kind of unique autonomous ecosystem in each and every one of his shows. In these unconventional exhibitions, Lempert groups pieces together and plays with scale in keeping with the architecture and tone of the exhibition space, creating striking associations and sensual bonds between the place and the pieces. His photographs offer such an exhaustive, methodological analysis of nature that they work almost on an abstract, conceptual level. Through the arbitrary character of the natural world, his meta-referential images reflect their own condition as an image. His work has featured in several publications and artists’ books and been exhibited at numerous museums and art centres worldwide, including the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Rochester Art Center in Minneapolis, the Hamburger Kuntshalle and the Fondazione Giuliani in Rome. In 2005 he was awarded the Edwin Scharff Prize. He currently lives in Hamburg and is represented by ProjecteSD gallery in Barcelona.

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

  • Oiseaux Vögel / 1997 -

  • Aves-Ucelli / 1997 -

  • Ptaki-Birds / 1997 -