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Sebastian Riemer’s Press Paintings series looks at the waste paper produced in the last century by the press photo industry. He examines numerous images, analysing the manual work that went into editing them, a primitive process from today’s perspective. This throws up questions about the material nature of the decades-old image supports and the physicality of the people depicted. The motifs are cropped, styled, and “beautified”, a practice that seems grotesque, radical, and even violent when it becomes evident how this also constructs an illusory image in the public memory. The meticulous black-and-white appropriations are an act of media archaeology, directing our attention to the images’ promise of authenticity and to the striking painterly quality of the retouched colour. The works, produced in the period since 2013, blur the boundary between photography and painting, between the documentary and its opposite.
Sebastian Riemer (b. 1982 in Oberhausen) lives and works in Düsseldorf. He studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Christopher Williams and Thomas Ruff.