T E X T S  |  G A L L E R Y

Levin Colmar's photographs do without uninspired effects and shrill voyeurism. Despite the intensity and liveliness of individual motifs, this is no loud art form. Rather, the photos are mosaic tesserae that record the search of fascinating moments, bearing the stamp of the dialog between the photographer and his subject. It almost seems as if Colmar succeeds in creating a valid picture when he is also involved in an emotional exchange with the object represented. The external encounter goes hand in hand with an inner contact. The process of "making an image" becomes a complex, sometimes existential experience.

Colmar collects glances and gestures - casual and penetrating, introverted and expressive. In sensitively constructed series of images he melds the atmosphere of an evening, a night or a meeting in bright sunlight. The borders between photography and painting with light are explored; some of the subjects almost vanish, to register as schemata. One almost seems to see a trace of the transitory nature of love when faces and bodies succeed in evading the seemingly objective lens. Contours and memories seem to fade in parallel, while occasionally only the gesture seems to point toward the atmosphere of the moment in experience. 

Cuba and her people play a central role in Colmar's photographic oeuvre. With his sure eye for moments of tension he succeeds in capturing the typical aspects of the culture, to underscore what is characteristic and to raise the casual to the status of event. In spite of the seemingly exotic ambience, in spite of the unaccustomed surroundings, images result that give no evidence of distance between artist and subject. The photographer self-evidently becomes part of the scene, takes part, without actually directing events.

Colmar's milieu portraits of the artist Carlfriedrich Claus (1993-1998), whom Colmar accompanied and observed with the camera during the last years of his life, show a similar narrative and obsessive hand. Colmar's "Photographic Diary", which later appeared as a book, follows Claus' withdrawal from familiar surroundings and served Claus as a projection screen for his own reflections on life. The pictures of the Cuban author Pedro Juan Gutiérrez (* 1950) are similarly penetrating. His diabolic projection is sympathetically portrayed and intensively felt.
Tilo Richter, Basel 2001