Städisches Galerie Iserlohn, Germany
10 April - 30 June 2010
Time and place mean little in Kalvar's photographs. What is initially apparent at first glance may be totally inconsistent with what is noticed after closer inspection. The incongruities between appearance and reality lead to further thoughts and interpretation - although the casual viewer may always be baffled by strange scenarios that verge upon the absurd. A naked man, one hand covering his genitals, and bending in the direction of the horizontal cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, appears to be fleeing the metropolis. We see a speeding car and his abandoned bicycle - is it the photographer's twentieth-century commentary on the expulsion from Paradise without Eve? Beyond the superb composition and the tantalizing subject, we have no certain idea of what it is about.
In many of the photographs rather normal-looking people appear in strange surroundings and very strange-looking people, often in odd poses, appear in quotidian places. People may be hiding or in the process of disappearing. A Parisian dog stares either at us or into eternity, sitting in a way that he may be expected to depart on two rather than four feet. Mating pigeons become an elaborate bonnet in New York's Central Park, while an enormous foot transforms a car into a hospital gurney in Greenwich Village. Inanimate advertising hands appear to be imminently capturing an unsuspecting Parisian - while another billboard subject has become ill from the advertised throat lozenges and has regurgitated on the street below. The Holy Father in Rome leads a flock of self-taken, perhaps half-mad parishioners. A man appears to be strangling someone in France, while another may soon be knifed in London.
Gestures are confusing and yet revealing; animals - as well as mirrors and statues- are anthropomorphized; inanimate shrubbery in the Luxembourg Gardens is metamorphosing into a sneakered leg or, perhaps, like the Greek myths, it's the other way round. Kalvar's photographic theme may be that of the Declaration of 27 January 1925 in La Révolution surréaliste: "We have no intention of changing men's habits, but we have hopes of proving to them how fragile their thoughts are, and on what unstable foundations, over what cellars they have erected their unsteady houses."
If we cannot always understand Richard Kalvar, we can immensely enjoy and recognize the strength and strange beauty of his work. It is an honor for Leica Gallery to exhibit it.
-Rose and Jay Deutsch, On-Site Directors