Philip Gaisser at Galerie Conradi

Artist: Philip Gaisser

Exhibition title: Monument and Preserve

Venue: Galerie Conradi, Brussels, Belgium

Date: September 8 – October 14, 2017

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Galerie Conradi, Hamburg/Brussels

If I had to sum up my thoughts on the work of the Hamburg-based artist Philip Gaisser in a single word, I would probably say inscrutable. Inscrutable because the visual surfaces of his pictures, mostly photographs, never present avenues that lead straight toward their content in its various dimensions. The bond between image and theme in his art is slack and casual and yet as snug as that between a good glove and a hand. The pictures continually shed skins and point toward their subjects rather than depicting them. Monument and Preserve, Gaisser’s first exhibition in Galerie Conradi’s Brussels showroom, is a case in point. It assembles several series and sketches of reflections that initially seem everything but inscrutable, that even welcome the viewer and draw her in. Take, for instance, Petőmihályfa, a series created in the fruit groves of the eponymous Hungarian village near Lake Balaton. The pictures are close-up shots of fruit lifted by the flash out of the deep nocturnal dark. The artist contrasts each image with a page showing a color gradient matching the particular hue of the fruit. It is a visual nibble, unless the viewer digs behind the intimations of Orbánism, alcohol as a social lubricant, and informal currency that dot the pictures.

Petőmihályfa also contains references to another series (Monument and Preserve) of pictures that Gaisser took near a phosphate mine in Idaho. A lava-drooling volcano amid a wintry landscape, heroic landscape photography—and yet something utterly different. What the artist contemplates is actually the maw from which the active ingredient in mineral fertilizers is hoisted that makes feeding industrial societies possible in the first place—sprays containing glyphosate that also help the farmers in Petőmihályfa grow plump and juicy fruit.

This embedment in an ecosystem of signifiers is what I mean when, in connection with Philip Gaisser’s works (which are, after all, not photography pure and simple), I speak of inscrutability. It is not that they are hermetic; they are just never finished. Gloved hub images gesturing away from themselves toward specific mélanges of issues and concerns that invite additional connotations and draw in other entanglements. In Monument and Preserve, to the extent that I can tell, nothing less is at stake than several interconnected ecological imbalances that are fundamental to our understanding of the world as a relational ensemble. But I may be mistaken when it comes to the defining quality of Gaisser’s art.

-Moritz Scheper

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve, 2017, exhibition view, Galerie Conradi, Brussels

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve, 2017, exhibition view, Galerie Conradi, Brussels

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve, 2017, exhibition view, Galerie Conradi, Brussels

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve, 2017, exhibition view, Galerie Conradi, Brussels

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve, 2017, exhibition view, Galerie Conradi, Brussels

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve, 2017, exhibition view, Galerie Conradi, Brussels

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve 1, 2017, C-Print, 53×67 cm

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve 2, 2017, C-Print, 53×67 cm

Philip Gaisser, Monument and Preserve 3, 2017, C-Print, 53×67 cm

Philip Gaisser, Real Estate (I), 2014, C-Print, 160×120 cm

Philip Gaisser, Real Estate (II), 2014, C-Print, 127×164 cm

Philip Gaisser, Untitled (Wead N°I–XVI), 2017, Bronze, 16x2x2 cm

Philip Gaisser, Malaparte 3, 2017, C-Print, 53×43 cm

Philip Gaisser, Roundup, 2017, C-Print, 93×73 cm

Philip Gaisser, Untitled I, 2017, C-Print, 70×50 cm

Philip Gaisser, Untitled II, 2017, C-Print, 70×50 cm

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