Camera Work in Berlin opens Philipp Keel exhibition showing an exclusive selection of the artist’s photographic work and invites the recipient to discover his fascinating Oeuvre, which combines conceptual and abstract photo art.
Philipp Keel, Sierra Sunset, 2004. © Philipp Keel.
More than 100 million pictures are uploaded each day on Facebook worldwide, the number of pictures taken in Germany sums up to over 200 million a day. This development and its consciously critical examination are the starting point of the conceptual self-understanding of the artist Philipp Keel. If one understands the overwhelming quantity of pictures as a medial parallel reality that mostly intents to preserve its true image, Philipp Keel’s works need to be understood as a deliberate antagonism resolving from this parallel reality: personal, paradox, unconventional thinking.
It is not Philipp Keel’s intention to portray reality. He rather changes the apparent reality through wilful surge, distortion, but also reduction – he suggests reality to sensitize the observer’s view. This way of exaggerating – the form of lily pads or the play of colours of the Sierra Nevada, in a way only Ray Ban can see them – demands the absorbing subject to experience the fascination of a subjective interpretation of reality. From light and form arises art – for Philipp Keel both are indispensable elements that need to be synchronized. Nevertheless, the work demonstrates this esthetic consciousness, which enters the microcosm of everyday life and renders perfect beauty made up by partly bizarre trivia photographic work of art. Hence, the play between the pulps structure of a melon and its seeds in the series »Watermelon Seeds« develops into an intensive experience of color and form. The level of abstraction is always brought to a point, in which the reception and the subjective assimilation of the shown including its (ir-)real esthetic are being possible without hindrance. It is what it is – but different.
Alienation as an esthetic instrument is not only content but method. This adaptation of form and colour becomes apparent, for example, in the work »Below the Surface«. Water is a recurring element of Keel’s Oeuvre, which can be traced back to the time he spent in California. His series »Air Mattress« underlines the influence of this element. Renouncing every prior mise-en-scène and neglecting motives on account of its esthetic or referential function, the artist sets the beginning of a work steadily at a point of time where a moving moment catches up with him: when driving a car, swimming or ruminating. In this special moment of experience Philipp Keel lets himself drift away and creates an image of his feeling. Therefore every work accommodates an autobiographic facet and consequently is a reflection of his own and his own perception. The subsequent phase of the originating process is marked by a subtle disassociation up to abstraction. With an emphatic devotion to detail, the moment, which is »projected« on the means, is to be developed according to the esthetic sensation. A phase that can take up to one year, until the shape is reached that lets the artist rest.
Born in Zurich in 1968, Philipp Keel already started to develope a keen interest in visual arts in his early childhood. He met the medium of photography as a mean of artistic expression for the first time in his adolescence. After his education at the Berklee College of Music in Boston he founded a small advertising agency in Switzerland to ensure the independence of his work as an artist, before he studied directing at the Munich Academy for Television & Film. The following phase of his life spent in California shaped his artistic world sustainably. In this time, he established himself as an artist, filmmaker, author, wrote the bestseller »All about Me« and began to look into incorporating color into his photography.
The cooperation with the printer Don Weinstein, who collaborated with artists such as Annie Leinovitz, Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton, opened Philipp Keel the opportunity of an experimental space where he could work on his own pictorial language. At the age of 27, he developed the Imbue Prints with Epson – a typography that is used by many artists and which is also the basis for the personal claim of high quality paper, prints and frames. In addition to numerous exhibitions worldwide, Philipp Keel had a solo exhibition at Art Basel in 2001 where Imbue Prints were presented to the world for the first time. Since 1999, three high-quality photography books have been released – »Look at me«, »Color« and »Asia«. Philipp Keel lives out his artistic work in photography until today but also in other genres of fine arts such as painting or drawing. After the death of his mother, the painter Anna Keel, and his father, the publisher Daniel Keel, in 2012 he started to lead the Diogenes publishing house.
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