The New York Photo Review

Andreas Gefeller: The Japan Series

Apr 26, 2011

There is a degree of formal beauty in the new photographs by Andreas Gefeller not seen in many photographs taken today. The subject matter is sparse, consisting mostly of wires photographed against the sky. Not a new subject in photography but one Gefeller approaches in a thoroughly modern manner, performing thatmost worthy of photographic tasks by showing us the world in a new and enriched way.

Two sets of photographs are in the show, both photographed in Japan in 2010. In the first he concentrates on manipulated plant growth, that is, espaliered shrubs, grape vine trellises and other wire support systems. Although a few of his large format pictures appear to be straightforward renderings, the most intriguing have a sparse calligraphic, almost unearthly quality. To some extent this is because they are photographed before they have come to full leaf in the spring; a closer look reveals that Gefeller has done the gardeners one better, pruning away all but the most evocative of the branches and trunks.

Taking several photographs looking up around the base of a tree and leaving out the trunk itself, he combines them in Photoshop to create “Untitled *Pear Tree)”. The result is a mysterious spider web of straight wires and gnarly natural growth with no connection to the ground below.

The second set of photographs is taken of electric utility poles, using the same technique. The pole itself is removed and the wires running up to it appear to form a suspended nexus of mysterious and intricate wonder. All the images are shot in extremely high resolution. Especially in these electric pole pictures, you can see the intricate system of guy wires, cables, connectors and mystery parts–probably put together over years and years–that has allowed modern Japan to function. One can only marvel at the task Japan now faces in rebuilding this infrastructure.

In the back room of the gallery you can see some of the spectacular large format, naturalistic photographs from earlier series by Gefeller. By taking nondescript locations, flattening the perspective, and providing tremendous detail, he uncovers the intense, multi-faceted history inherent, and ultimately visible, in each.