Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival has landed in the GTA for almost a month. As a featured artist, Angela Grauerholz – who won the Scotiabank Photography Award in 2015 – currently has her new series exhibited at the Olga Korper Gallery. Angela Grauerholz is an influential Canadian photographer, who was born and raised in Germany, and, since her arrival to Canada in 1976, has resided mainly in Montreal. Her work has gained significant international recognition as well. The nine photographs in this exhibition were mostly shot in Paris Musees and the Musee Carnavalet-Histoire de Paris in 2017-2018.
Istallation views of Angela Grauerholz’s exhibition at Olga Korper Gallery, 2018
Setting the stage with objects from different scenarios to depict empty places after people have left them, or maybe before they enter them, makes the images feel experimental, breaking the conventional compositional schemes. Analyzing how memory exist in between space and time is the key philosophical element in Grauerholz’s work. Memory can fade over time, and only the part of it that is associated with strong emotions can become more vivid as time passes. Gauerholz addresses the idea that people can reconnect to their memories, – even long forgotten ones – or at least to the sentiment of them, when seeing the objects that were part of them. In the narrative of some images like “Small Sofa” and “Theaterlogen” we feel the strong presence of the artist, as though she had just vacated those seats.
Angela Grauerholz, Small Sofa, Inkjet print on Arches paper, edition of 5, 48″ x 68″ (left) and Theaterlogen, Inkjet print on Arches paper, edition of 5, 40″ x 60″ (right)
Among the photographs, only one captured a person as the object of the image, which makes this particular piece stand out. The female figure, maybe a museum attendant, stands still in a relaxed posture, in a cool toned, empty museum corridor, waiting. She might be looking into a crowded room where masterpieces are admired by visitors or just into another vacant place. However, she is not part of the action. She is outside, quiet and motionless. The composition and the neutral colouring makes this photo fresh and serene.
Angela Grauerholz, La Compteuse, Musée Rodin (Paris), Inkjet print on Arches paper, edition of 5, 48″ x 68″
In some of the works, like “Venice Café” and “Musée Carnavalet – Salle n°106 Chambre du temple (Paris),” Grauerholz has created images that almost have the same texture and quality as oil paintings, reminding me of Mary Pratt’s work. Mary Pratt’s realistic paintings depict ordinary objects and scenes, using fine brush strokes to recreate every small detail, resulting in works that are very photographic. Some of Grauerholz’s photogrpahs achieve the reverse effect. This ambiguity is especially strong in “Venice Café” when observed from a distance. “Musée Carnavalet— Salle n°106 Chambre du temple (Paris)” also has similar textural values to a painting, but what makes it unique is the bit of sky glanced through the open window; creating a contrast with the vintage wall paper. The view we can see – and the view we can’t see because of the smallness of the window – provokes the viewer’s curiosity about the scenery outside the camera’s frame.
Angela Grauerholz, Venice Cafe (left) and Musée Carnavalet – Salle n°106 Chambre du temple (Paris) (right), each Inkjet print on Arches paper, edition of 5, 48″ x 68″
This exbition has a message for everyone. It might be different for each individual because, as the gallery’s website suggest, “Memory is subjective, manipulated and changed every time we recall a moment in our past. Angela’s approach is from a philosophical standpoint, working intentionally with sentimentality and nostalgia to confuse and enchant.”
Images are courtesy of Olga Korper Gallery
*Exhibition information: April 28 – June 2, 2018, Olga Korper Gallery, 17 Morrow Avenue, Toronto. Gallery hours: Tue – Sat, 10 am – 6 pm.
**Part of Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival 2018