On the occasion of the fifth annual European Month of Photography Berlin, Kicken Berlin will exhibit works by Janos Frecot and Péter Nádas. Frecot documented the impressive architectural testaments of Berlin’s history in the mid 1960s. Preceding and accompanying his literary endeavors since the early 1960s, writer Péter Nádas has captured in photographs moments of everyday life in Hungary. Both artists’ work manifests in their own individual ways the engaged view of the compassionate observer. The exhibition also celebrates two other special occasions – Janos Frecot’s 75th and Péter Nádas’s 70th birthdays.
As founder and long-time director of the photography collection of the state museum Berlinische Galerie, Janos Frecot made important works of art accessible to the general public. His photographic beginnings, however, are rooted in the practice of the medium itself. Implementing his firsthand knowledge of the technical foundations of photography and the photo lab, Frecot turned his attention in the early 1960s to his immediate surroundings. The city of Berlin and all of its historical layers inspired the passionate flaneur. Facades, courtyards, firewalls, and monolithic individual buildings isolated in intermittent urban wastelands bore the traces of history: silhouettes of vanished buildings, brick remnants, old advertisements. The series Mauern / Walls (1965–66) goes beyond the archeological or documentary impulse, creating a rich and aesthetic realm of the imagination. Similar to Bernd and Hilla Becher’s approach, Frecot also used a large-format camera to pursue – though indeed less systematically – a survey. The work Bahnbogen 22-79’ / Rail Arch 22-79’ (1966), taken at Berlin’s Gleisdreieck, was originally a 25-meter panorama constructed of individual images. The motivation behind a seamless and sober survey of the railway’s contemporary state, which nonetheless reveals historical developments, is one Frecot shares with his contemporary, Ed Ruscha, and that artist’s Every building on Sunset Strip (1966).
Hungarian writer Péter Nádas has, since the late 1950s, created a today little-known body of photographic work. Beginning as a photo reporter, he accompanied life in cities and in the countryside as a silent observer, finding in his images increasingly immaterial, moving allegories in light and shadow. He focuses on the usually little-noticed, unspectacular objects of nature and everyday life. His recent two-volume publication with the Swiss publishing house Nimbus Verlag is entitled Story of Shadow - Story of Light. Both Nádas’s journalistic works and his everyday observations have the effect of surreal miniatures, contextually removed from their immediate surroundings, but retain the pictorial language of humanistic and empathetic reportage. These are collected in the Story of Shadow. The Story of Light, photographs taken between 1999 and 2004, affixes transitory shadow images with the strong contrasts of surprisingly beautiful, tender overlays. The visual narrative corresponds with an essay on intuitive seeing. The overarching contemplation of text, image, and the philosophical world is also the focus of the current solo exhibition of Nádas’s work at the Kunsthaus Zug in Switzerland.