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German artist came, saw, took photographs and deconstructed; The Welsh capital's hallowed icons receive a radical touch in a forthcoming exhibition.

Byline: Emily Lambert

HOW does a German artist see a Welsh city?

How does he view Cardiff?

Last year Thomas Kellner was commissioned by Ffotogallery as part of its ongoing project Dinas which aims to explore different facets of the city.

Kellner, who has been heavily influenced by the Cubist artists, has developed a significant reputation for his fragmented photographs of notable buildings and his iconoclastic images of the Eiffel tower in 1997 drawing international acclaim.

Since then, in his own highly personalised method of working, he has produced a growing body of photographs featuring iconic buildings from major cities around the world.

During his visit to Cardiff, Kellner photographed some of the city's most famous landmarks including the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Castle, the City Hall and the National Museum.

Photographed using his idiosyncratic means, Kellner's Cardiff landmarks adopt a new life, changing radically from the symbols of institution and history into contorted, perhaps even absurd forms.

He said, 'Whenever I visit a foreign country I create my 'deconstructions' to say 'this is an over-photographed building - don't waste any more time or material on more and more pictures'.

'The contact print is central to my conceptual approach, symbolising the duration of time and a product of mass- photography. As seen on the contact sheet, one picture is taken after the other.

'There is no fakery, each work is planned and organised just like a cubist picture,' Kellner said.

Looking at these images allows us to erase the stereotypes in our minds and re-examine and question what these fragments of familiar buildings mean to us.

We are forced to scrutinise, with greater depth each building - an act which, through familiarity, we may not have previously allowed our eyes to do.

The basic rhetoric means of his giant photographs are fragmentation, cuts, interrupted editing.

With an almost Fun House fragmentation to the work, Kellner captures structural details in ways that evoke intervals, gaps and distance between a building's constituent parts.

His pictures reveal the illusory nature of the idea that movement might be reconstructed through motionless cuts.

And that buildings, for all their steely stances, can be temporary.

The exhibition, which places Wales and its capital city firmly on the international architectural map, also features key buildings from other European and American cities, is accompanied by a hardback book, produced with support from Cardiff 2008, the body set up to promote Cardiff's now unsuccessful bid for Capital of Culture in 2008.

Ozymandias is Kellner's second monograph and includes an illuminating text by AD Coleman, one of the most influential and imaginative international writers on photography.

In his essay, Structure Implies and Movement Possesses, Coleman finds precedents in popular culture which parallel the comedy of Kellner's playful works, and in a much more sinister context, considers the artist's work against the backdrop of the collapse of the World Trade Centre's Twin Towers.

It is this ability for Kellner's studies of man-made structures to exude multiple imaginings that ultimately makes his oeuvre so compelling.

His striking image of Cardiff City Hall is now displayed on a massive hoarding at Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff Bay.

Thomas Kellner - Ozymandias can be seen at Ffotogallery at Turner House, Penarth from September 27 to November 9
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 23, 2003
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