Tihomir PinterTihomir Pinter: Treasure

05.11.2009 to 31.12.2009

Exhibition catalogue Treasure (selection from the series Detail in Iron) In the art photography circles, Tihomir Pinter is known primarily for his series of portraits of Slovenian visual artists, musicians and writers, and his portrayal of everyday life in iron foundries across the former Yugoslavia. The exhibition entitled Treasure presents a selection of works from […]

Exhibition catalogue

Treasure
(selection from the series Detail in Iron)

In the art photography circles, Tihomir Pinter is known primarily for his series of portraits of Slovenian visual artists, musicians and writers, and his portrayal of everyday life in iron foundries across the former Yugoslavia.

The exhibition entitled Treasure presents a selection of works from the series of so-called ironworks photographs, where the artist focuses on the details of ironware. The photographs were created between 1965 and 1990, without flash, using only existing light. All photographs were made by the artist himself using the gelatine-silver technique which accentuates the tonal values of light. Some were also hand-toned.

In the Treasure, the photographer highlights the principles of his work. In documenting iron foundries, the photographs of ironwork reveal his love of detail, of unveiling small parts which tell big stories, his love of story-telling and reading between the lines. The coldness, rawness and industrial quality of iron provide only a starting point for the story of a passionate quest for beauty in balanced and harmonious compositions, the golden mean, the careful relation between tonal values of light, the play of structures, the search for rhythm and examination of form – in short, the love of visual elements.

Pinter’s gaze is similar to the poetics of the photographers of the New Objectivity in the 1930s: the focus is on the aesthetic qualities of objects, intentionally disregarding their social environments, since they were interested only in “photographic detail as a fragment torn from chaotic nature and transposed into a photographic image as an autonomous, self-sufficient entity”. Albert Renger-Patzsch, the leading German photographer of New Objectivity, entitled his book The World is Beautiful. With Pinter, the details of ironwork seem like a personal confession of a love of detail, the recognition of this love in pure objectivity, and of a release into a language of pure visual forms. At the beginning of his career, the photographer approached such photography intuitively, and only later learned about the master who had shared his view of the world.
The next principle highlighted by the Treasure exhibition is a certain approach to photography. The photographs created using completely analogue technology are of a different kind – a slowly dying photographic perception of the world, in which the photographer is much more limited by the number of shots on a celluloid tape than contemporary photographers with high-capacity memory cards. With the old-fashioned method, the photographer can see the shot, composition, or detail only after the film is developed and only after mastering the chemical processes involved. Technological changes in the history of photography (such as the introduction of small format film) have always influenced the conception of photographic images. So the digitalisation of the photographic medium has also wrought irreversible changes and new views of photography.
This does not mean that one approach or the other is more significant; but Pinter’s method of conceptualising and making photographs is a rare treasure, which can offer the viewer, particularly of younger generations, an opportunity to observe the effects of light on silver salts and compare the expressive possibilities of gelatine-silver and prevailing digital photographs.

Renata Štebih

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