What mainly characterises the large-formatted colour photographs of the artist Andreas Gursky (b. 1955 and living in Düsseldorf) is his interest in the outward appearance of the world and its detailed and precise reproduction in the medium of photography. The pictorial elements are clearly structured, the colours and shapes are so strictly formalised that one could gain the impression that Gursky's photos are - in correspondence to an aesthetic concept - staged and arranged. Gursky's artistic approach, however, is extremely well thought-out and selective, driven by a search for a picture that, not unlike the collective memory, sums up our subconscious concept of image.

Gursky's motifs range from large factory halls to panoramic landscape shots, from bustling stock-exchanges in Hong Kong to lonely fishermen in Mühlheim. Whether his photographs tell of fullness bordering on horror vacui or extreme lonesomeness, they are always characterised by timelessness. The moment of pause, the "nunc stans", in which time appears captured in a single, universally applicable moment, connects Gursky's photographs to works of the history of art: Jan Vermeer's quiet and detail-worshipping genre paintings, C.D. Friedrich's romantic landscape paintings, Cézanne's investigative, analytical pictorial works. Similar image concepts in the history of art are explained by Andreas Gursky in that "there is apparently a common language of the subconscious understood by all people that could be called the language of images." (A.G. in a conversation with B. Bürgi, Zürich 1992)

In his exhibition at Portikus, Andreas Gursky shows large-formatted works of the past years. As ensemble, they create their own level of meaning, without challenging the validity of the individual pictures. Of central significance is the photography entitled "Montparnasse", shot by Gursky in 1993 from a block-type apartment complex in Paris. It also lends its name to a lavish edition published for the exhibition.

Photos: Katrin Schilling