Sag Harbor Picture Gallery
The Sag Harbor Picture Gallery is pleased to present a spectacular and often mysterious collection of black and white photographs by the Swiss photographer Andreas Rentsch. Primarily featured are works from Mr. Rentsch's Rocks series, as well as pictures from his Sun series. While all the photographs were shot in the American Southwest and all include the presence of Mr. Rentsch himself, these pictures cannot be regarded as either self-portraits or landscapes; rather, they are intensely personal, spiritual and psychological studies of Rentsch's wonderfully sympathetic view of the natural world and his place in it.
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"The rocks in the photographs tell a story," explains Rentsch. & "They have consciousness and personality." And the photographs reveal exactly that. In each, he has captured the distinct character of the rock he has chosen to portray and the unique relationship he has with it. In one photograph, a monstrous stone hovers over and threatens to envelope Rentsch, while in another he listens, hands cupped to his ears and eyes shut in concentration, intent on absorbing the message of a nearly anthropomorphic rocky tower lingering behind him. Another photograph finds Rentsch in the joyous throes of deep, spiritual communication, encircled by a gentle halo of smooth rock glowing around him.
The photographs are abstract, weirdly illuminated, and have disjointed spatial perspective. The are reminiscent, perhaps, of the innovative, other-worldly photographs of the surrealist Man Ray, and yet they retain the earthly organic shapes and textures of a Henry Moore sculpture. There is no darkroom or computer manipulation. To accomplish these photographs Rentsch employs a technique he likens to ritual: in the blackness of the desert night he will set the camera on a tripod, with the aperture open, and selectively illuminate those objects he chooses to reveal on film by 'painting' over them with a flashlight beam. He then moves himself into the frame and assistants 'paint' in the figure of Rentsch himself. For Rentsch, this time-consuming process taking as much as forty-five minutes per frame to realize) is a reaffirmation of his place in nature, a ritual. He is not merely snapping a picture. His roles are both active and passive. He paints the landscape with the flashlight beam, and he places himself in the photograph, where he must remain still, meditative, and among those natural elements of his photographic composition. In the quiet desert night he is, in fact, communicating with those desert rocks.
Wrapped in a white shroud to protect himself from the desert sun, the photographer again finds himself exposed to the elements in a striking image from the Sun series. It is an explosion of light, a fusion of figure and sun, which the Rentsch describes as a 'melding of the physical and the spiritual.' However, whereas in the Rocks series, Rentsch, using the flashlight, is very much in control of the photographic image, the pictures in the Sun series are created by him leaving much more to chance. It is his desire to see what happens when the film is struck by bright sunlight - to leave the creation of the image to the whims of nature. His equipment is simply a pinhole camera, but again he uses a lengthy exposure time to create his effects.
Mr. Rentsch has been awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and has exhibited at numerous galleries and museums, including the Houston Center for Photography; the Centre de la Photographie in Geneva, Switzerland; NAFOTO, International Photo Meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil; the Foto Septiembre exhibit, at the Museo Leo Trotsky in Mexico City; the Central Fine Arts Gallery in New York City; and the Centro Colombo Americano, Medellin, Colombia. His work is part of several permanent collections, most notably the Polaroid Collection, and those belonging to the Musée de L'Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi, Belgium. He has been featured in Aperture magazine.
Please call 631-725-3100 for gallery hours.