From Photography to Elusionistic Art
Throughout his life as an artist Torsten Warmuth has been fascinated by the possibility of fiction in photography. In 2011 he completed a first key phase of work with the development of Silver Painting. As the founder of Elusionistic Art, he continues his commitment to this tendency in art, employing photographic media and means in a radical new way to create a form reminiscent of the literary stream of consciousness.
Torsten Warmuth was born in former East Germany in 1968. He has been living and working in Berlin for almost 20 years now. His interest in photography began at the age of ten, awakened when he found a 6×6 Bakelite camera, which he soon exchanged for a Russian-made reproduction Leica. As a teenager, TW combined his interest in photography with his fascination for motocross and car races; he wanted to find out how unusual exposure times and double exposures would affect his photographs, which he was already printing himself in the darkroom.
In the late 1980s, TW studied mathematics and completed his doctorate in 1995. Yet he decided against a university career and devoted himself exclusively to photography. During a two-year work experience with an industrial and architectural photographer, he not only learnt to use large-format cameras, but also connected with a vivid art scene, which underlined his decision to work as a fine artist.
In the following years, many of TW’s images originated in metropolises such as New York, Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Lisbon and Cairo. Like the great flaneur of the past century, he understands urban space as modernity’s extreme – as the place where customary patterns of order and perception dissipated long ago.
Kai Uwe Schierz compares TW’s works to the literary stream of consciousness:
“We are able to gain a better understanding of his photographic images by comparison with the narrative technique of the so-called ‘stream of consciousness’, which included even the uncontrolled, disjointed and associative elements of everything. In this context, it becomes clear that Torsten Warmuth’s photographs always refer to inner processes, to a metropolitan feel for life rather than to concrete, witnessed situations.”
Indeed, Torsten Warmuth feels very close to this narrative form both emotionally and artistically; the principle of associations, fragmentary memories and perceptions, the inseparable nature of reality and fiction are gaining more and more significance in TW’s later works. This is expressed stylistically above all in the increasing abstraction of his images. Warmuth took a decisive step in this direction with the development of so-called Silver Painting in 2009.
These unique and mostly large-format works are based on traditional photographic processes but elaborated by means of negative montage and a painterly application of toners onto the silver gelatin paper, so that the ultimately emerging works cross the borders between photography and painting.
The transition to Elusionistic Art in 2011 appeared to dissolve these technical boundaries between the media completely. In terms of content, as well, it is now scarcely possible to distinguish between reality and fiction, between the real world and that of the imagination. Fragments evolve into completely new “images that appear suddenly, possibly evading perception from a different viewing angle only to re-emerge later, in novel and original ways”.