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  Photography as art,
to let the motif survive.

Rheinische Post 02.01.1993
by Stefan Skowron

He qualified for entrance to university eight years ago, and as he loves the purity of light, he worked on glass objekts to start with but always kept an eye behind the lense.
Andreas Magdanz born in Mönchengladbach and 29 years old, is one of those artist who wants to turn photography into a visual art form. Some of his pictures and photo projekts will be exhibited at the Suermondt - Ludwig Museum in Aachen until the end of January 1993 and, at present, the recently graduated artist is working on a projekt wich is to be exhibited at the Ludwig Forum for International Art.
We, at RP, are herewith attempting to present Andreas Magdanz and his visual points of view.

Anyone can take a picture. It can after all, be learnt. Photographic art, on the other hand, pursues ideas, conveys meaning, intensifies perception beyond the craftsman's skills.
For Andreas Magdanz, born in Mönchengladbach, photography is his job, the result of this is photographic art: convincing, sensitively prevailing, astounding, moving, yet unassuming, almost plain, quiet. It offers resistance to the flood of pictures. It conveys a complex view, deliberate meanings, is not modern or commercial. It leads away from the historical record of an event or a person. It is no longer just an appealing photostat copy but reveals containment, high standards and exerts influence.
Andreas Magdanz tries to present his experience of the environment to the observer, tries to make him aware of the motif and its own sculptural background as well as the determination of the photographer.

Restraints of politics

While still studying, Magdanz became involved with invironmental politics and ecological issues. He worked for the Ecological - Democratic - Party and represented their ideas at the elections for the County (Landtag) and for the European Parliament. He did, however, come up against the restrainst of politics that cannot be overcome by conviction alone. This led to a renewed contemplation of photography with pictures that express his feelings: meditative calm, equilibrium.

Photographs are preceded by experience. During travels to Russia, Scotland and Ireland important pictures were taken. But Magdanz finds his objekts in the same way by observing his close surroundings. For weeks he travelled through the Eifel on his bicycle and came across people and objects tempting to be photographed, when for example, landscapes suddenly open up or when experiencing a certain light. Magdanz is strongly motivated by landscapes either seen as complex »Lebensraum« or as structures and microcosms that can only be found in a section of trees, leaves or ground covers. Magdanz captures a beauty without pathos, just as it presents itself to the »seeing« eye.

Yet at the same time his photography is emotional though never sentimental or offensive. Passion is something he prefers to retain rather than use it voyeuristically.

Like an artist use his chalk, oil or watercolours, Magdanz will want to use the relevant camera. Be it the small, almost invisible Minox C or the sturdy and extravagant plate - back camera. Each picture, each motive requires its own technique and also format: Magdanz worked out enlargements that fill a square meter. He then continues on any differences untill the presentation. He applies the same high standarts to each picture as well as the quality of the completed projekt, to his bulky photoalbums wich come alive by showing contrasts of small - large or calm - motion, nature - people and great care is reflected in the titles of the pictures. Also quality of paper, binding, edition are all important to complete the projekt.

No cheap effects

He wants to achive credibility, authenticity - nothing artificial. Andreas Magdanz is a photographer of the obvious and the sensuality. He approaches the image of the picture with soft even intimate photographs. He changes very litle and the leaves the light as the soul of photography its own strength, does not reduce it to a mere function of beeing an unavoibable technical prerequisite. He gives authority and meaning to the available light as well as the motif. For the sake of honesty, only a few fill - in light effects are used and hardly ever a flash light: arrangements, posing and manipulation do not feature in the foreground. That is why Andreas Magdanz is one of the few photographers to foregoes cheap effects and who, on the contrary, attempes to leave it up to the observers imagination and memory.

No, he has never taken a picture of himself, well, at least one that could be shown, says Andreas Magdanz. Their is, however, one: taken during his bycicle picture tour through the Eifel. His shadow on the road while riding his bike. It is obvious that he is not keen on photographing his face. Simply, because he still not satisfied with himself, the circumstances or his work. Again and again he talks of his love for nature and, yet, his photographs of people are far more intense and sometimes his portraits of people at work or their place of work are even breathtakin: a store in Ireland, women working in choclate factory, the padre in a cloister, a shop in Monschau called Egypt Basar. There is only one photo of himself that he really likes and that happens to be on a video. This video was taken as a by-product by his professor Wilhelm Schürmann and it shows him how he is, without any special light or other effects.
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