For the beginning of exhibition year 1999 and as part of its series “A presentation of works – Austrian artists who have had a sustained influence on contemporary photographic art” FOTOGALERIE WIEN is presenting Leo Kandl – a captivating observer of normality, a master of the moment, who advanced from photographic reporter to champion of an art which tries to approach reality through the means of a head on, unstage-managed photography.
Leo Kandl presents himself as a meticulous chronicler of the banal. With precision and from a relaxed distance he has been pursuing the multifaceted aspects of every day life since the late 1970s. Unobtrusively he tries to document those facets of life which seem too trivial to excite our attention but in their totality make up what we experience as reality: the atmosphere of Vienna, the specific lifestyle of this city, moments of this conglomeration which cannot be comprehended in the abstract – a world which for generations and through the most various traditions and trends has been perpetually reforming.
“Werkschau IV” offers a sample of the most important works in this context and tries to give an overview of his immense ouevre from 1977 onwards. This exhibition encompasses the early Portrait Series – spontaneous polaroid shots of passers-by – the legendary ”Weinhaus” Series taken between 1978 and 1984 and the Street Pictures, snapshots of Vienna en passant. Following his obsessive reconnaissance of the public domain Leo Kandl’s interest focuses from the mid-eighties on the intimate, the private. The studio-lit Self-portraits with Fruit document a playful experiment with the senses. The Museum Pieces like the series From the Fund focus on the collecting impulse. This collection, put together in the early nineties, becomes the central theme and implicit cause of a recent examination of the human image.
Since 1996 the individual has again become the centre of attention in Leo Kandl’s work. The Viennese models – contemporaries found through advertisement – who pose in front of the camera in their own clothes and according to their own wishes, appear strangely ambivalent compared to his earlier works. On the one hand they caricature in their directness the exalted word of models and model photography. On the other hand they represent reality, are images in the classical tradition of Memisis. In their undisguised direct language they show two things, namely that which is and that which we (secretly) wish to be: people who simply and self-confidently form their own individual relationship to the world, their existence within the context of the urbane.