Gerhard Bissell

Art Informed Photography

Gerhard's creative approach is guided by his profound knowledge of art through the ages.

Born and grown up in the historic German city of Nuremberg, he holds M.A. and Ph.D degrees in Art History from Erlangen University. After spending several years in Rome researching baroque sculpture, he eventually moved to Britain in the early 1990s. He has since written extensively for Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon (AKL - Artists of the World), including biographies of many 19th to 21st century photographers and architects which fed back into his own artistic practice, and has researched and published scholarly books and papers independently.

As a member of arjeea21, a Reading based association of artists, he took part in several group as well as solo exhibitions.

Further details on Gerhard as a scholar:
Annotated List of Publications

Art Informed Photography - a statement

Visually highly educated but self-taught as an artist and photographer, I employ many styles, aesthetic approaches and subject matters, inspired by a variety of artistic traditions.
To describe this, I coined the term Art Informed Photography.

My first attempts were closely linked to documenting the sculptures I studied at the time. With the new century I started to use photography as a means of artistic expression in its own right. At first, I embraced street photography, concentrating on the built environment, people and their gestures, oddities and strange juxtapositions. My images from numerous travels demonstrate a particular interest in how cultural legacies influence the present.

Architecture photography, too, was and is an important aspect of my work. In some instances I showcase the spectacular achievements in fine contemporary buildings while on the other end of the spectrum are recurring themes of construction, dereliction and decay, open in equal measure to the exploration of social issues as to strictly formal interpretations of pure form and colour

While many of my images are photographs in the strictest sense, this is only one possible outcome of my endeavours to produce works of art. Far from being a purist, I don't hesitate to utilise digital manipulation tools to enhance my images, and I am now more and more interested in the creation of art objects beyond the photo. For this, I work more like a painter, transforming the digital image into an abstract composition while retaining a figurative element.

In my series Landmarking, architecture and other subjects are embedded in an ornamental framework created out of the surrounding environment. Removed from its urban or rural context, the isolated main motif is either monumentalised or interwoven in a pattern where space takes on different realities. On the one hand, the photographed actuality of the building and its spatial relationships are preserved but somewhat truncated, on the other hand, the realistic space merges with the virtual space of the manipulation into a hybrid state. The real space depicted becomes itself an object within a differently conceived space.

The series Summer Monochromes follows essentially the same approach but with flowers and other plants as the main motif. As the title suggests, colour is an important element in this group of works.

The mixture of abstract and figurative components is key to the surreal qualities and turn the underlying photographic image into an object. The beholder's eye, first inclined to accept the work as a non-figurative geometric construction, will eventually work out realistic, photographic details and jump between recognisable elements and the ornamental system.

Another series, Trepidations, takes optical triggers to a different level. Partly inspired by Bridget Riley and op art in general, engaging the eye and creating retinal irritation was the initial idea behind this approach. Still in its infancy with only a handful of images produced so far, the enhancement of iconographic aspects inherent in the original photo will still be developed further in future works.

© Gerhard Bissell 2007-23