press release

Axel Hütte is presenting recent work in his second solo exhibition at Galería Helga de Alvear and the first after his survey show at the Palacio de Velázquez in Madrid. On this occasion, the exhibition is made up by photographs contrasting Artic glaciers of the North and tropical jungles of the South. Photographs taken in Australia, Brazil, United States, Germany and Maui (Hawaii) are confronted with others taken in Norway, Alaska and Iceland.

As is customary in his work, the compositions create geometric structures bordering on the abstract. Without any type of manipulation, the artist chooses a viewpoint to bring to the fore the relationships between volumes, lines and colours existing in nature. Divested of any cultural or temporal pointers, the spectator faces a landscape free from adjunct characters or constructions, making the lines, colours and textures the true content.

That said, it is nigh on impossible to sidestep an engagement with the tradition of landscape within the history of art: and so the large icy spaces will not fail to bring to mind the sublime Romanticism of Caspar David Friedrich, while the detailed close-ups of pools and forests are sure to trigger flashes of Monet’s experimentation with light and colour in his late work.

In the mangrove swamps and forests of the Southern hemisphere, the lush overgrowth seems to fill everything right to the very edges of the photographic paper. In sharp contrast, the whiteness of the icy Northern landscapes stands in for the nothingness of the void, erasing the very limits of image. Sometimes, it is even hard to differentiate where the sky ends and the earth begins.

The photographs are basically in a horizontal format, as we have come to expect in the work of this artist. However, for this show, he is also including diptychs, in which a sense of verticality is further enhanced by splitting the image into two parts where the continuity is maintained by means of the horizon line.

Each one of these landscapes comes from a unique, specific place and yet they are, at once, practically abstract images. Begotten from a close observation of the natural environment, these archetypes set up a dialogue of contrasts: density versus openness, coldness versus warmth, aridity versus humidity, emptiness versus excess. A former student of Bernd and Hilla Becher, Axel Hütte is an indefatigable globetrotter who has travelled to the most exotic corners, from Hawaii to Nordic fjords.

Schirmer / Mosel have just published a comprehensive catalogue covering the whole of this recent series.


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Axel Hütte