Dirk Hanus is a photographer. He knows his job very well and refuses any blank
perfectionism. He wants to overcome the shallow posing of fashion models and the
strategic patterns of advertising experts. He wants to look behind the curtains,
so that you can see the human being as it is. Therefore, he has the light
walking over face and body, while the photo film is recording. He calls his work
»Lichtgestalten« which means something like »Figures in the spotlight«. These
photographs make the posed and the contrived disappear by the fuzziness and
enable a different approach to the people photographed. In addition, Dirk Hanus
shows pictures of dilapidated industrial sites. He used them as contrasting
scenery for the flesh of naked bodies. Passing history, living bodies and
corroding engine parts. With his latest works, he recollects the prototype of
the photo camera, the pinhole camera. This type of camera requires no lens and
makes the photo appear in a fancy light. In these coloured scenes, you can see
archaic natural landscapes that reveal longing dreams turned into the fabulous,
compressed from different eras. By means of these photographs, Dirk Hanus
reawakens concealed places inside of him and of us.
Dr. Ina Gille, art historian, Leipzig 5/2005 (translation: Peter Fischer)
INNER SPACES. SURREAL WORLDS - Photographic pictures have replaced figurative representations in painting, graphic arts or sculpture not completely.
But compared to the countless Christian, mythological, genre and historical paintings of the 19th century,
figurative representations are hardly to find in these traditional media today. We find figurative representations mostly in advertising and in photographic art,
mainly in displayed scenes. Meanwhile, with their finesse and realism they are vastly superior to the historic pictures.
Times in which you could only take pictures of really existing motives are over. Today digital technology allows immeasurable scenic possibilities.
Computers can generate all imaginable scenarios and transfer them into a photography-like form.
With this background in mind, the pictures Dirk Hanus displays in his series “inner spaces” gain in importance. Because they break our viewing experiences: We see women and men, girls and boys acting in rooms familiar to us, but the actors appear in mysterious and ambiguous arrangements. We are irritated mainly by the persons’ postures and the lighting – coming from mysterious sources, even if clothing or interiors are very detailed and recognizable and therefore familiar. In other words: The productions of Dirk Hanus seem surreal. But their surrealism does not refer to the surrealist pictures of the 1920s with their insistence on psychic automatism. They join the tradition of surreal motives which art history has known for centuries as artistic expression of fantasy and feeling. From that point of view they are embodied in art history and show clear references to contemporary photographic art at the same time. Thinking of Jeff Wall, who displays the fleetingness of street photography, or Philip-Lorca diCorcia, who lights up and alienates his street motives with studio flash light. The intentional display of persons and the alienated light design show methodical parallels. But the artistic creations have a special, original quality.
Dirk Hanus’ displays follow his fantasies and intuitions completely, as his early works do already. On one side, with the selection of models, rooms and interiors they are dramaturgically very carefully prepared. Otherwise, they live from spontaneous decisions when carried out. If his pictures in their computer edited appearance differ from reality later on, this happens in conviction that curiosities and peculiarities of everyday life and of abundant media-presented events from all regions of the world beat all our imaginations. In terms of sociology, Dirk Hanus shows the world of European middle class in his light and color rooms. The actors are all shown solo in interiors, suggesting a certain loneliness and forsakenness. In spite of a varying body language, the pictured persons remain in seemingly dream-like or cinematic scenes, of which we neither know what has happened before nor what will happen in future. The viewer has to create his or her own story. Thus, these surreal scenes become sources of our real emotions and fantasies.
Dr. Enno Kaufhold, Berlin, 2008
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