Having seen this particular show twice now since it opened last month at the Tate Liverpool it caught my attention for all the right reasons. Photography needs to do a lot to get me excited and Gyorgy Kepes work has definitely done this. Considering he created these photos, photo-montages, photo-grams and collages in the 30’s and 40’s, Kepes did a resoundingly superb job by remaining extremely current. His work comes across as very modern and forward thinking in its approach and you could be forgiven for thinking it was done by some new-era pioneer. He was a man ahead of his time.
Not an actual student of the Bauhaus however he was mentored by one of the founding directors of this renowned German design school by fellow Hungarian professor, Laslo Moholy-Nagy. During his time in Chicago after fleeing Nazi Germany in 1935, Kepes continued his experiments with radical approaches to photography. A medium which he understood as an instrument of modern technology. Throughout his highly prolific career at the helm of the New Bauhaus School in Chicago he pro-actively collaborated between the visual arts, science and technology bringing together leading artists, musicians, designers and philosophers in his pursuit into investigating the effects of visual imagery.
Following the publication of ‘Language in Vision’ in 1944, this landmark journal exemplifies his dynamic methods of bold experimentation, not listening to the rules and pushing the limits of photography. Initially training as a painter you can see how he was intimately interested in the effects of ‘painting with light’.
His ‘camera-less’ photograms were made in the darkroom by arranging and exposing objects directly on top of light-sensitive paper, juxtaposing geometry, industrial, typographic and organic forms to create images that are poised between abstraction and representation. You can see he has employed a wide range of objects and techniques in his work and I admire his formative use of collaged, photo-montaged art to create surrealist imagery. Very much in keeping with the Tate’s special exhibition theme of ‘Surreal Landscapes’ connecting all three artists with a sense of mystery, invented worlds and assemblage.
On til 31st May
Albert Dock, Liverpool