Evi Keller, the photographer who metamorphoses light

By Agathe Lautréamont

Imagine an artist who has decided to couple several artistic approaches to her interior world, constituted of contemplation, dreams and mysticism. You will arrive at a tentative description of the work of Evi Keller, a creator with one sole dream: to divulge all the secrets of light via her delicate, oneiric practice of photography— a discovery of a mind-boggling body of work between painting, engraving, and silver halide photography…

Matière-Lumière (Light-Matter). It is the title that Evi Keller gives to her photographic work. A name that sounds like an oxymoron, since matter is precisely what light is not, but rather a simple transport of energy. By the sole power of her imagination, can the artist, of German origin (but living in Paris since 1994), succeed in transcending scientific limitations in order to attain a new artistic approach?

One would like to believe it, considering how much the photographic work she presents is endowed with this almost magical power to overwhelm our senses and bring us to sincerely ask the question: what does one see? The artist, who is represented by the Jeanne Bucher Jaeger gallery and whose work has been put in the spotlight by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie and the Abbaye d’Auberive, likes nothing more than to solicit our sense of vision, and upset our perception of space, in order to make us penetrate another world: her own, where nothing is certain anymore.

In her photographs, perfumed by the unreal, Evi Keller puts us in suspense, in the face of an oeuvre that is difficult to define at first. Is it an abstract oeuvre, executed on a brass frame? Is it rather an engraving? An oil on canvas perhaps, teeming with details? None of that. The artist’s secret resides in the original choice of subjects, and in the even more surprising way of treating them. Equipped with her silver halide film camera, Keller ventures very close to streams, lakes and pools, in the heart of winter. Then, she directs her lens on the water frozen in the ice, in order to seize the reflection of the countryside above it in the frost. The result offers an inverted structure in a broken composition made as with thousands fragments of crystal, the whole represented in sepia tones.

One can see in it a glass broken by an angry fist or a metaphor for wrinkles that cover faces little by little, as time goes by, while the rest of the world remains, changeless, around us, indifferent to our tragedies. Evi Keller is truly fascinated by the play of shadow and light that silver halide photography reveals with such sensitivity.

Matière-Lumière [Towards the Light - silent transformations], n° 4805

She builds around this play on perception a world imprinted with much mystery and charm, for a universe that pushes us to introspection. We slip into a reverie at the same time that we seek to make out the branches of a naked tree, or to define the point where the ice ends and the water begins.

The series of compositions entitled “Matière-Lumière” associate truth and fantasy, matter and immateriality. In her photographs, Evi Keller seeks to report on her devouring passion for nature. She is one of those artists that feels profoundly attached to the earth, to the mineral, the vegetal, to the fury as well as the delicacy of these parts of the world that are still preserved from the destructive madness of western society. (…)

The entire sleight of hand results in the artist’s amazing dealing with light. She permeates herself with it, she takes the time to let hours go by in order to observe how daylight interacts with ice, in order to better compose the photograph that will reveal another world, chimeric and unstable, into which one wants to plunge. It does not take long for our imagination to be set in motion and, as if we had been invited by Evi Keller’s talent, we begin to see beyond that which is shown (…)

Matière-Lumière [Towards the Light – silent transformations],
series of 19 photographs.
Exhibition «Courbet and Nature, Crossed perspectives».
Centre d’art contemporain Abbaye Auberive, 2016.
Matière-Lumière [Towards the Light - silent transformations], n° 4817 et 4654, 180 cm x 180 cm. Exhibition «Kairos Castle», Gaasbeek Castle, Belgium, 2017.