Beate Gütschow is a German contemporary artist who works primarily through photography. In her work, she analyses the complex and ever-changing relationships between perception, representation and reality.
For her series HC, Hortus Conclusus, she delved into the subject of “Enclosed gardens,” a recurring iconographic motif in Renaissance and Medieval paintings which would depict an idyllic scene contained in the space of a fenced or walled green space inaccessible to an exterior public.
Gütschow’s Hortus conclusus is actualized in a sequence of contemporary scenes where the fences are graffiti-covered walls, urban infrastructures, decaying enclosures and the gardens are green patches in small urban parks surrounded by tar and cobblestone walkways or sand areas. The scenes are inhabited by casual passers-by and punctuated by traces of the time passing, abandonment and decay.
The construction of the images appears paradoxical because the photorealism of the details lies in contrast with the recourse on axonometric projection, an intellectual and detached view which does not coincide with human vision.
The process behind the composition of the image includes an extremely detailed photographic survey of the depicted area, summing up more than 150 photos for a single object and an assemblage in parallel perspective through photogrammetric models. It mixes human attention and selection with machine guided operations. The procedure is precisely described by Sara Hillnhütter:
An algorithm connects identical-appearing points on several photographs to form a polygon net, visualising the objects’ depth. Finally, the photographic surface is projected to the net. Taking this data record as raw material, rather than the usual linear perspective camera-lens alignment, Gütschow uses a 3D computer programme to let the object appear in a cavalier perspective. In this way, for example, the depth contours of cubes are turned into rhombuses, so the lines in the picture do not converge but run parallel.
The final result appears as suspended between realism and fiction. A mundane subject, described with extreme precision, is depicted with reference to an idealised and highly symbolic visual theme. The apparent immediacy of the means of photography is questioned by the complex procedure which carefully recomposes the numerous fragments of a small reality.
All images :
Courtesy: Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich; Eric and Louise Franck Collection, London; Produzentengalerie Hamburg; Sonnabend Gallery, New York.
© Beate Gütschow, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020