Sebastian Reiser

illex welcomes Austrian photographer Sebastian Reiser. Sebastian’s work expresses an immediate calmness and simplicity, while at the same time exhibiting a compelling range of underlying complexities. Through a series of disarmingly quiet and complex images, Sebastian inspires wonder, exploration, and the search for understanding.

Please enjoy his photographs and his interview.

Many of your photographs invite the viewer to engage in certain actions and thoughts. In the photo of the milk-filled glass, for example, we are invited to ponder and possibly to solve the problem of a glass filled to the brim. Even a slight movement will lead to disruption. In another example, the photo of the tiles in the mirror, a pattern of tiles is both created and disrupted by the mirror. The careful composition of this photograph, however, invites the viewer to reconstruct the broken pattern as a whole. The beautiful challenges in these photos are what we find most attractive. Please comment on these observations.

My view is often guided through simplicity and a direct perception on things. Through images I try capturing things that I see, especially the way I perceive them. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. What I find very interesting concerning the image with the mirror is the extended dimension. The milk-jar originated rather by coincidence. Any specific movement would definitely lead to disruption and disorder. Therefore, it’s essential to constantly illustrate a specific silence and simplicity.

Two additional photographs function in a similar way, the photo of the blue chair and blue cup and the photo of the pool ladder. Apparent in each of these photos is a certain duality of action. The viewer is invited to sit in the blue chair and drink from the blue cup as the viewer is likewise invited to step down the ladder and experience the water. Yet the course of action in these photographs is somewhat unknown. The viewer is again not certain how to approach these situations that you have presented. Can you help us to understand these pleasant tensions?

It illustrates desolateness in certain moments. You could call it Silence or The Moment After. Possibly, this action could be carried out by a person who enters the photo’s view one minute before it is taken. Sitting on a stool drinking coffee. Stepping down a ladder into the sea in order to go for a swim. I find this type of observation very interesting and it is often reflected throughout my photographs. I often wonder about its effect if the person still resided in the picture. Probably, my focus would change. I really like this train of thought.

Your photograph of the wooden ladder in the field is particularly impressive in that it represents the most striking conundrum of all the photographs we’ve discussed. In the image we see a ladder that appears unsupported and that leads to no apparent destination. The viewer is again immediately engaged with the world of the photograph and invited to make sense of its apparent incongruence. In addition to being a sublime example of visual tension, this scene also inspires an array of emotional responses: desolation, futility, perseverance, hope, fate, amusement. Please tell us more about this photograph.

When observing the photo you first ask yourself how it is possible to capture a ladder like this. Thus, you are directly confronted with photography. The structure of the image is very simple and the multi-dimensional deep background that expands beyond the trees triggers a 3-dimensional illusion that evokes emotion. Shortly after I had published the photo on flickr I received an e-mail expressing gratitude for reviving a childhood memory. In her childhood there was a time when she dragged about a small self-made ladder in order to climb into “different worlds”. In my view, this is an extraordinary beautiful idea.

In a continuation of these themes, we also notice the pure aesthetic beauty of the gas station. In this photograph we see crisp planes of light, vanishing perspectives, and strong blacks and laser-like reds. In opposition to the classic visual appeal of this image is the contemporary subject of the polluting gas station. This photograph presents opposing relationships between black and red, between the light of the station and the dark void of the night sky, and between the visual beauty of the image and the potentially harmful nature of its subject. What is your interpretation of these opposing relationships?

In this image there is a very strong calmness too. I think everyone of us has at some point passed a gas station at night. I find the contrast between light and darkness very interesting. Complete darkness with a lighting that only shows a small section. Surrounded by pitch-black night. You encounter some kind of safety and security against the darkness; in the background the red-lit road that indicates movement. Despite the unnaturalness of a gas station, this photograph demonstrates that in this context it can evoke a peculiar beauty.

Please visit Sebastian’s website and Flickr for more.

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