Angelised Man 182 x 40cm
Publisher VERK Tidskrift
Art Historian, Curator
At first glance, I’m seduced by the shifting colours and the gentle light which shines through in the series of work, Sampled (2017) by Armin Dröge.
I sense how my gaze regenerates and how I can finally breathe out from the myriad of imagery which I’m faced with every day. After a short while though I start wondering; what is it actually ’m looking at? I let my eyes wander over Angelised Man (2017) and Sampled Souls#1 (2017) and try to focus. I squint and re-focus, as I move towards and away from the Art works. Suddenly, I can believe I see it. Frustration, joy, fury. Emotions which explode through human forms. I see retakes and double exposures, both in focus and ambiguity. But I simply can’t wrap my mind around the images – what is it that I’m looking at?
Armin Dröge collects pictures from the Internet using search engines. The images are then moved around, creating painterly strokes, while photographed straight from the computer screen using long shutter speeds and double exposure. Dröge has been developing his methods for a number of years and pieces which may have been suspended for some time could suddenly develop, like oil paintings, to create new imagery.
The two photographic pieces Sampled Souls#1 and Angelised Man both measure 180 x 40 centimeters, a narrow format which encourages a narrative view from the spectator, who is unable to see the entire piece up close. While you could step back from the Art work to take it in in its entirety, you might lose experiencing all the fine detail. The many overlapping images create a densely woven motif, depicting people, colours and graphic elements. Sometimes, the same motif can be found in several different places throughout the images. The method is evident, as the corners of the computer screen can be seen as squares, and through colour nuances and shades, reflected through the glass of the screen.
Sampled Souls#1 182 x 40cm
To me, Sampled Souls#1 appears to show a crowd of people transitioning into a group who seem to be singing, as a choir. A number of faces with their mouths open. Are they singing or shouting? My mind wanders as I try to create structure and meaning in this plethora of images. In some places, I can see the digital cursor, showing where the mouse is on the screen. Angelised Man shows Dröge using some recurring motifs from Sampled Souls#1 .
The singing/shouting figures now appear closer to the viewer. The squares are more clearly visible, as is the naked skin. The images showing bathers are sharper and less unsettling than those in the precious piece. But there is still a plethora of images and that inability to sort and structure the impression we get.
Garden of Earthly Delights - Hieronymus Bosch 220x390 cm
Having grown up in the Netherlands and with an arts degree from Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Dröge would have spent his formative years learning about a number of great artists and being inspired by his cultural heritage. I can see traces of that Bosch triptych in Dröge’s work – the extroverted human forms in different situations. Throughout the centuries, Bosch’s work has been reinterpreted in a number of ways, through the lens of religion, astronomy, astrology and geography. Dröges panoramic collage is made up of images found online, reflecting our world through a keyhole. During the 16th century, our world was portrayed through the hand of the painter, their skills and their imagination. These days, we’re all simply a few clicks away from countless versions of the same motif. Through the emotions which are visualised, I can sense connections between the Garden of Earthly Delights, Sampled Souls#1 and Angelised Man, all using countless motifs and expressions to create a sense of frustration, insecurity and disorientation.
Dröges pieces Sampled Souls#1 and Angelised Man can be seen to represent the overwhelming daily impressions, images and information which constantly flood our senses. By exploring the lines between the Internet, the digital screen, the art of photography, and by using composite digital collages and techniques, he creates an unstable visual which urges thought and personal interpretation. Perhaps I will never know exactly what it is that I’m looking at with these two pieces – a thought which I find pleases me. The strength of Dröges work is found in the intangible, in that which provokes thought and which continues to surprise the spectator.
*Hugh Honour and John Fleming, World History of Art (Revised 6th Edition), first print 1984, London
Uprising (detalj) 40 x 40 cm
Uprising 184 x 40 cm
2 March - 22 April 2018
The Free Photographers Department
Gallery 5, Kulturhuset Stockholm
6 October- 3 December 2017
Fotografiska, Museum of Photography Stockholm
firstname.lastname@example.org © 2018 Droge
Dröges pieces can be seen to represent the overwhelming daily impressions, images and information which constantly flood our senses. By exploring the lines between the Internet, the digital screen and the art of photography he creates an unstable visual which urges thought and personal interpretation.
Perhaps I will never know exactly what it is that I’m looking at looking at Sampled Souls, a thought which I find pleases me. The strength of Dröge’s work is found in the intangible, in that which provokes thought and which continues to surprise the spectator.
Susanne Fessé, Art Historian