Hilgemann Projects


Peter Ruehle

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Peter Ruehle: principle of landscape
Sabine Ziegenrücker

Peter Ruehle (*1975) elevates the landscape in his works to a principle. Horizontal images, slim and often condensed to stripes, pull through his work. On tapes mostly only a few centimetres high develops a full cosmos in highest precision. As if screwing up the eyes in full concentration the view is adjusted both at clear view and sharpness of detail. In this apparent contradiction lies the power of the works that take captive at first glance and take the viewer to a journey starting at a point universally known: at the Funkturm of Berlin, the Frauenkirche of Dresden or at the images of the election of Barack Obama. But soon we are entering the empire of imagination. Like entrance gates in an made-up world these recognizable signs are standing at the beginning of a path that leads further into invented and unknown areas. Very soon we don't know one's way around and so many things are very far. But then, fortunately the next anchor appears and gives the opportunity to recognize the next familiar item.

On closer examination of Ruehle's cityscapes - all of them connected with the artist's biography - one first perceives a silhouette being in a distant and nearly disappearing future. The above extending heaven seems vast and endless. The foreground remaining in vagueness may be interpret as masses of land or water appearing from nowhere. Place and timelessness facing those cosmic distance are reminding the contingency of our existence. Confusing but beautiful at the same moment are these landscapes when we make us aware their colour and width from which it seems that a lot of order and harmony comes from. But still they are deserted. Not even the lonely monk at the sea by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) – with whom Peter Ruehle not only has in common the relation to Dresden – shares this endless space with us and makes it less inhospitable.

What is reality and what is fiction? Trying to decode the cityscapes in their topographic substance it can be noticed soon that just a few things are corresponding with the places named in the titels of the paintings. Except for some recognizable points a lot of things are removed or exist only as assertion. Numerous green areas or expanses of water are added, many a cupola is to ascribe to the changes that Ruehle carries out at the cities. With great meticulousness and fine painting pretending a precise and documentary mimesis, he leads us into a made-up world full with his inventions to show us how it could be in a better or in a negative way too.
Fiction and reality will be imperceptible infiltrated as opposites and reunited in their inconsistency. In this general validity landscape will be made into a principle. It gets discernible as a symbol for the modern human being – sense in ontological view will be visualized aesthetically in the outside world.

The serial character of this work cycle emphasizes the conceptual approach, that forms the basis of these works the scond time one looks at them. They are telling us a lot about our ways of perception and seducibleness of sight. The readyness to consider something recognizable for an already known image corresponds with knowledges of the physiology of perception. It starts with the assumption that the human brain while seeing scans the object with regard to known quantities, so a more detailed registration gets unnecessary. At the perception of images a barely controlled comparison of patterns and further capacities of the brain will be used only in case of significant departures from the norm.
Ruehle is using these facts and achieves the greatest possible extent of generalization without losing specific in ability to visualize things.

In the 'mind your own business' – series Ruehle continues condensing of this programme. From the german newsmagazine 'Der Spiegel' he takes out images of events of the day and arranges them in horizontal stripes one below the other at canvaspanels from ever the same size. Each panel includes photographs describing a period of two weeks. Therefore 24 panels give a reflection, a portrayal of one year. Shreds of medial distributed reality are lighting up, lining up in formation: pop award and disasters of war, refugee dramas and car races. Each event occupies similar space. The cynism we consume day by day with the news will be conserved and composed as a multicoloured flood of images at the same time. Panel by panel one is able to walk along these documents reviving more than a past calender year.

Again only parts are getting visible – everything else becomes a multiple noise. Ruehle takes up the moment in which we recognize individual things, compose images automatically from memory reminding the belonging stories. Seeing gets an active and productive process. It is the artist's intention to filter and to order when he uses a formal access and a serial formation, but rapidity and drama are taken away only apparently. Taking one step back, away from a single image, the panels embrace each other into a vibrating mass comprising the colours of time. In the view of the chaos of phenomenons comes out an aesthetical order. In that way also the title of the series can be understood that invites ironically to take care only for ones own concerns. Looking at these photographs showing the madness that happens every day an uncoded text in images – without dogmatic impetus.

In a further consequence Ruehle has developed his work 'image kilometer' by sticking together again a huge number of magazine images. Some kind of a filmroll arised. The conception reminds one of 'The Vertical Earth Kilometer', brought into the earth in Kassel by famous land-artist Walter de Maria (*1935) – to the greatest possible extent invisible but existing.
The images Ruehle uses are rolled and preserved and as an object closed. They are hidden from sight, not available and not longer open as news-images. But are they captured in their fascinating power because of that? Don't they generate a special force of attraction through the powers of imagination? The high stimulus of images whatever they may have been like casting their spell over us and the including ambivalence seems to be multiplied.

In his latest works Ruehle has driven forward his compression of landscape on and on. The horizontal and monochrome stripes can be understand as a coloured essence of that principle. The artist puts gradings of colour one below the other, mostly as sequences going from a dark center to a brighter tones at top and bottom. These compositions are set into boxes of a vertical format. Aesthetic order and a purified visibility on the chaos of the world of images are getting possible from this distant and abstracted point of view. Again landscape keeps to be recognizable as to be reminiscent of a place of longing.


Peter Ruehle auf der art Karlsruhe 2010, one artist show, Galerie Kai Hilgemann