press release

In her works of painting and photography the German artist Sabine Dehnel focuses on details such as the fabric of a shirt or a hair slide in a woman's hair. At first glance it seems rather accidental what is in the picture and what is not. However, everything turns out to be staged or manipulated.

Dehnel creates an unusual interplay between painting, photography and set design in works that challenges normal ideas about media specificity as well as our perception.

Her method is always the same. She uses photographic material found in her friends' stock of old family photos or among her own snapshots or flea markets. This material she subsequently translates into painting.

Dehnel chooses a subject such as a figure in a remarkable dress and places it in a new surrounding or she borrows a spatial situation from the photograph. In this way she transforms the photography into paintings.

However, the process does not end here. Painting is now the starting point for photography. Many artists during the years have used photos as a source of material for paintings but not the other way round.

Dehnel places real people in a setting created out of textiles, paper, wood and other materials. She creates an illusionist space normally associated with painting. The artificial effect is further emphasized by the fact that she paints her models skin with makeup so they look like figures in a painting.

When this temporary setting is in place she takes photographs and processes them digitally afterwards. In this way the illusionist vision of painting is transformed into photographic reality.

In Martin Asbæk Projects Dehnel shows new paintings and works from series of photography such as Frieda showing the upper part of a woman's body in close-up. She wears different shirts and necklaces but the composition stays exactly the same from photo to photo that are hanged in sequences.

Sabine Dehnel's work raise important questions as to what painting and photography are capable of today. Even after many years of experience with digital picture processing and picture manipulation, photography still seems more real than painting - all though it probably is not.

Dehnel confuses our perception. She invites the beholder to reflect on how the image was actually made – the story behind it. Thus a free passage to the world of imagination is being created.

Sabine Dehnel (b. 1971) lives and works in Berlin. This autumn she published the book anderswo elsewhere at Hatje Cantz.

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Sabine Dehnel
make up