Thomas Kellner – Half-timbered houses of the Siegen industrialised area today
February 14 – May 1, 2021
Art Galerie, Siegen, Germany
Opening reception Sunday February 14, 11 AM on Zoom
Introduction by Dr. Andrea Gnam
Art Galerie Siegen
DE 57072 SIegen, Germany
open after lockdown
+49 271 339603
Documentary photography, half-timbered houses from the region around Siegen, timeless images of culture and society in the Siegerland region. This list seems to allude inevitably to the well-known works of Bernd and Hilla Becher, their photographs of half-timbered buildings and industrialised architecture.
Since 2015, however, the statements also fit the Siegen artist Thomas Kellner, who follows in the footsteps of the Bechers in staging house fronts. In a series of 19 architectural photographs, the artist shows selected Eiserfeld half-timbered houses in their current state. As a historical comparison, he contrasts the Bechers' black-and-white photographs of the 1960s with his own images. Without limiting the recognizable connection between the two works, Kellner gives the fine art photographs his own signature and plays "with the transformation into black and white, the shadowing, the focus on details that remain in color, the dreamy blur in the background." In this way, his photographs act as independent artworks of regional living and in parallel fulfill a comparative function.
By revealing motivic and methodological differences to the Bechers in direct comparison, similar to a search picture, Kellner's typology of works is not only a mirror of a changing residential culture and part of social and residential history, but also testimony to an evolving, artistic photography. Kellner's fine art photographs open up a view of the polarity of a building that has been altered by visual modernization measures over time and resembles the original building only in form. The appraisal and condemnation of the emerging changes in the subject is as dualistic as the architectural structure itself.
However, there is no mistaking that the typology of the half-timbered houses of 2015 lost identity and were to some extent "deprived of their expression," but in Kellner's fine art work they return to a magical realism.
I really need to thank you many people for encouraging me to push this project about the Bechers. Starting with friends in Houston, to my publisher Oliver Seltmann in Berlin, my wife at Art Galerie, Peter for the design, Andreas for the photo retouching and to Andrea for the wonderful essay.