Thomas Ruff: Photograms and Negatives | April 19–May 31, 2014 | http://www.gagosian.com
I walked into the gallery, and immediately, Thomas Ruff’s “Photograms and Negatives” pulled me deep into its own world and its own dimension. I knew that I was in an art gallery, and I knew that I was walking amongst these extraordinary, magnificent photograms and negatives, yet it was as though I had been pulled into an ocean of colors, and I was in the process of being drowned in blues and greens, as though I had kept my eyes open while underwater. Ruff’s pieces are large and all framed behind glass. As you walk around the gallery, you can see the reflection of yourself and everything else happening around you. Even though I am not sure if this was done intentionally, it still gives you a surrealistic assumption that maybe you and everything else in the room are also part of Ruff’s creation, as though you are meant to collaborate with his work and become one with it so you, as the viewer, better understand it. The colors of Ruff’s photograms and negatives are so heavenly that they make you imagine that you are walking in a forest and the sun light is blinding you, but you can still see the essence of nature and their abstract shapes, colors, and forms ever-so-vaguely, like everything is behind a drape of fog. It is as though you cannot quite figure them out but can still sense and feel his colors and his genius, and you know that it is the nature of the magic of Thomas Ruff’s photograms and negatives. They are meant to pull you into the artist’s world of dreams and for you to wake up on the other side once you exit the gallery. I absolutely loved his work.
When you make photograms, without the use of a camera, you can indeed call that abstract photography, as the lens and the corresponding registration medium are lacking. No longer do you have pictures of reality or objects; you only have their shadows. It is a bit like Plato’s cave, where one could only imagine reality; the objects themselves were not visible.
Thomas Ruff was born in 1958 in Zell am Harmersbach, Germany. He studied at the Staatlichen Kunstakademie Düsseldorf beginning in 1977, and was a professor there from 2000 to 2006. Public collections include Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate Gallery, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2009); Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg, Germany (2009); Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2009); “MCA DNA: Thomas Ruff,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2011); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2011); “Thomas Ruff: Works 1979–2011,” Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012); and Sala Alcalá 31, Madrid (2013).
Ruff lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.