Hans- Peter Feldmann Text at the exhibition by David Stroband
Hans-Peter Feldmann is a man of few words. Words blur the open eye and tend to immediately add explanations. Looking and looking again comes first.Feldmann has been collecting and ordering images for almost 65 years. He considers this to be his main occupation and will never call himself an artist. He does not like labelling, because it will only block the eye.
Hans-Peter Feldmann (Dusseldorf, 1941) likes sharing his way of viewing and ordering . For some time in the 1960s he made paintings in which utensils (a crayon, a stamp, a drawer) played the leading part. On their backside he pasted all kind of pictures that he had found in magazines.Soon he noticed that the medium of photography could offer him more possibilities to get a hold on the world surrounding him. From 1968 to 1976 he made grey card-board booklets in different sizes that were kept together with packthread and staples. In these books series of reproduced black and white pictures were shown of women’s knees, airplanes in the air, cyclists, sailing boats on a lake, the sea, clouds, female moviestars, football pictures and snow covered fir trees. The number of images in each book came up intuitively, a booklet appeared in one thousand copies. at a small amount of money and the number of images and the artist’s name were shown on their covers in stamped letters.Since then Feldmann has always worked in unlimited editions and also stopped signing his work. He hardly ever gives biografical information or interviews. When he can not get around an interview he will answer in images. The grey cardboard books show worlds by repeating specific visual motives..We won’t get a unique view on the world around us. He leaves a possible interpretation of images entirely up to the viewer and hopes that it will be ambiguous.He has been observing the world since the end of the 1940s. In post war Germany, German image material was forbidden. Although allied material, especially American images, abounded. Feldmann’s view was strongly influenced by Images of big cities, spacious landscapes, sunsets and beautiful women in exotic clothes . The field of tension between daily reality in post war Germany and the imaginative pictures made Feldmann realise that we all watch the world from a private awareness of images, a private image reservoir we use for interpreting and colouring our world.That specific private -ness is Hans-Peter Feldmann’s main starting point. He gives room to viewing and unravels it in his orderings and presentations. From a lack of entire belief in a unique creation or a complex artistic construction Hans-Peter Feldmann has spread multiple photographic images, objects and gestures.Already in 1970s, he suggested to gallery owner Paul Maenz that he should invite unconditionally the first person asking for an exhibition instead of making an exhibition himself. The owner of the then very progressive Cologne gallery could not agree to this. But in 1990s ,he did manage to open the Vleeshal in Middelburg for all local artists.When Feldmann watches a man repeatedly paint Helga on the street ,apparently because shehas just left him, he undergoes this as a gesture hiding the essence of art.Hans-Peter Feldmann’s visual world is large and diverse. The works he presents are not made by himself but found in books, in magazines, family albums, calenders and collections of postcards et cetera. The objects on show are found in shops and markets. He often manipulates his material. When he can’t find an appealing image, he takes picures himself. For him there is no difference between found and made material. It is all about expressing his own fascination towards the world around him. Time and again he triest to come to grips with it and the essence of his searching, finding, ordering and presenting is almost therapeutic. For him there is no real dividing line between the world and art. From the 1970s onwards Feldmann had a shop selling souvenirs like cuckoo clocks, thimbles, kitsch statuettes and other cheeerful thingies.Two years ago he and his wife decided to get rid of the shop. A surprising buyer turned up: museum Lehnbachhaus in Munich wanted to obtain the shop’s entire inventory in order to exhibit it as a work of art . One room in the Munich museum has been transformed into “shop” and sharpens the public’s mind: what is reality and what is art? Many visitors feel like buying something but they can’t.In his exhibitions Feldmann often presents every day objects and they get an alienating, almost surreal aura by the way he combines and manipulates them. Apparently he still wonders at the world and wants us to participate in it. In Frankfurt he once fitted up a room for children with a combination of all kind of objects that were highly appreciated by the open minded children.Hans-Peter Feldmann is a professional voyeur. At each exhibition he makes the public share his fascination for diverse image material. All kinds of motives can be seen in his countless books. The book “Voyeur”, which has appeared in six differen editions, shows about eight hundred pictures collected by him. These have been placed randomly without any text. Some motives, real Feldmann motives, keep coming back though: swinging girls, mountains, elephants, people playing in the sea, horses, gulls, clowns, palace interiors and many erotically and pornographically charged photos .His photos of slept in beds or women’s legs keep haunting you. They seep into your image memory and colour your view so that you will never again look at these motives with the same eyes.There are books with his holiday pictures of gulls and views from different hotelrooms. Others show pictures about the theme of “love” or “smoking”. A small book shows all the clothes of one woman.” They have been neatly put on display one by one against a neutral background. The book “Die Toten” honours all the victims of the Rote Armee Fraktion. Both offenders and victims get an equal amount of attention by means of reproduced news pictures.In his work Hans-Peter Feldmann seems to embrace everyday life and makes it special at the same time .His view is melancholy, vulnerable, dreamy and humouristic. Who wouldn’t like to hit the idea of showing a pound of strawberries in spare pictures or presenting photos of different car radios playing good music?The picture of the girl reaching out to another girl of whom only shadow and contour are visible, seems to be a metaphor for Feldmann’s view. Is the girl groping for an illusion? Is she facing her projection? Hans-Peter Feldmann observes the world exploringly.The diversity of works that were selected by himself for art space Galerie Block C are a clear manifestation of this exploration.
translation: Annemieke van der Linden