John K., enigmatic himself as a formerly unknown artist, bares all with an exhibition opening at the Galerie Susanne Zander, Cologne: in full-frontal view from Friday 28th of November until February 13th, 2015.
The exhibition, a series of vintage photographs from the Eric Kroll collection, beckons the viewer into an intimate world of beautiful behinds. Dating from around 1959 to 1976, the playful collection of exclusive imagery presents an array of alluring naked women, (some) on an assembly of seemingly edible seats. The beautifully orchestrated still life shots resemble life drawing paintings and, to me, are an apparently humorous combination of food still life meets nude still life and thus, a whole new life is born.
Aesthetically pleasing, the images are playful in regards to their subject matter and comfortably indulge the delicate peachy skin tones with pastel backdrops and soft, considered light; though I feel the pictures contradict themselves. At first glance, the images appear light-hearted, though on closer inspection in focussing on the womens’ facial expression (when available), their is an apparently solemn sentiment. The viewer is suddenly awash with an awkward, disconcerted discomfort, which subverts a lively initial response, conveying perhaps a deeper, more sworded meaning behind the imagery. It seems that the sitting subjects take their role in question seriously, perhaps they have been instructed to conflict the silly-ness of the imagery with assertive facial expression and stern, unforgiving eyes.
Though obviously meticulously staged, there is a consciousness to the images that allow the viewer to question weather the women have been walked-in upon; a voyeuristic theme of having been ‘caught in the act’. Perhaps an answer to the solemnity of face? Previously thoughtful or daydreaming then abruptly awoken, a reality captured in a split second pre-response? Considering the size of the stills too (most of which 9cm x 9cm) the viewer questions weather the images themselves extend this privacy as wallet-sized, personal archive shots, for the photographers eyes only.
Undoubtedly, John K.’s photographs emit an aura of exclusivity, not less as the selection itself is a hand picked bite from Eric Kroll’s vast collection. The images stand alone as untold stories of past and future within a window of milliseconds, inexhaustibly egging the viewer to mull and frustrate over just what happened next.
John K.: Sitting
Works from the Eric Kroll collection
28th November—13th February 2015
Galerie Susanne Zander, Köln, Germany
Words by Charlie Fooks