If there‘s one thing I know how to do, it’s look.”
Amazement, agreement, outrage, lack of understanding, euphoria and joy – Hans-Peter Feldmann’s images of everyday life provoke strong reactions. How can modest, banal photographs of women‘s clothing, car radios, refrigerators, strawberries, sunsets, bathing beauties or newspaper titles develop such strong effectualness? Hans-Peter Feldmann helps himself to the unlimited pool of public images and shows us what images really are through artistic interventions, new arrangements and charming appropriation: media exponents of visualized memories, associations and desires. He confronts the viewer with their own pictorial world and perception and avoids any kind of categorization and assigning of meaning with his artwork. That‘s because a meaning only emerges – if at all – through the interpretation of the viewer. And that can turn out to be extremely controversial depending on individual experiences, conventions and expectations.
For Hans-Peter Feldmann, images are pure projection surfaces and as a result cannot be owned by anyone. They are democratic cultural heritage. In addition to his own photographs, he works with found material of an amateur, professional, private or public nature that he procures at markets, in used book stores or even from anonymous people. He only realizes what he was looking for once he has found the corresponding image motif. Never sorting or logging his collection according to any strict typology, he instead steers the chaos into pathways and always constructs new arrangements and constellations. As such, the focus of Hans-Peter Feldmann‘s oeuvre never rests on a single frame with a narrative dimension, but rather on the sequence. For this reason, the intuitive order and repetition leads to deeper insight. Overriding contexts, ironic short circuits and unexpected interconnections become visible with the overall impression – a visual quest for a grammar within our collective image culture.
Art is in and of itself nothing sacred for Hans-Peter Feldmann, but rather a trivial everyday occurrence and form of communication. It affects everyone and everyone consumes it from time to time. As a result of this stance, he counts among the co-founders of conceptual art, which in the 1960s freed art from the genius of the artist. Since Hans-Peter Feldmann consciously copies reproductions again and again and publishes his works unsigned and unrestricted, he is able to evade the rules of the art scene with its concepts of uniqueness and scarcity.
The work of Hans-Peter Feldmann also defies classification in a formal sense. He makes use of any photographic genre, such as portraits and composite sketches, collages and cut-outs as well as magazines and photocopies. He shows the artifacts as he found them – directly, usually unframed and unpreserved, marked with signs of aging and glue and even pinned to the wall with nails or published in a modest booklet format. Using this unmediated presentation format, he more boldly emphasizes the aesthetic and conceptual simplicity that distinguishes all of his works.
On the occasion of Hans-Peter Feldmann‘s 75th birthday, C/O Berlin is presenting a retrospective with around 250 images. The photographic exhibition offers an
overview of his complete works – starting with positions of the late 1960s and continuing up to his latest work. For the exhibition, curated by Felix Hoffmann and Greta Kühnast, an artist book entitled „Nur für Privat“ (Only for Private) will be published in the Verlag Walther König.
Hans-Peter Feldmann, born 1941 in Düsseldorf, studied painting at the Kunstschule in Linz. In 1968, he turned away from painting and began conceptual work with the photographic medium. Between 1968 and 1975, his series of works entitled “Bilderhefte“ was created. Between 1980 and 1989, Hans-Peter Feldmann withdrew from the art world. Since 1998, he has self-published (Feldman-Verlag) works and was a co-founder of the textless magazine „OHIO“ from 1995 to 1998, as well as of the magazine „cahier des images“ together with Celine Duval. He has published his works in numerous artist books, anthologies and catalogs and presented them worldwide in exhibitions – including at the documenta 5 and 6 in Kassel, in the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, in the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, in the Fotomuseum Winterthur, in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, in the Arnolfini in Bristol, in the Louisiana in Copenhagen, in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid, as well as in group exhibitions at the Venice Biennale or in the Serpentine Gallery in London. Hans-Peter Feldmann lives and works in Düsseldorf.