BERLIN.-MKgalerie Berlin presents Holger Niehaus, on view through February 23, 2008. Something isn't right with Holger Niehaus' still life. In it, the motives are in no way unusual: dried flowers, an arrangement of fruits, an apple. But at second glance it becomes clear: The dried flower bouquet is in a vase which is overflowing with fresh water, the fruit has been peeled for the photo and the apple is revealed, upon closer inspection, to be a kohlrabi.
Even the still life painters of the 17th century let irregularities flow into their images, sometimes by uniting flowers blooming in different seasons into one bouquet. Niehaus produces a hybrid branch of various blooms with the aid of masking tape, or adds the digitally created clones and the same blooms to a different bouquet. His images - aesthetically perfectly staged - lead viewing habits on to thin ice, when the artist includes unexpected moments of irritation into a seemingly harmless subject.
One ultimately discovers that one has been the victim of optical illusion - but without the irritation being dissolved. There remains a feeling of unrest. If the still life of the 17th century was unequivocally coded and obligated to a set symbolism, one looks for "the" meaning in these photographs. His compositions cannot be unlocked; they deny the classical tradition of the still life in order to throw the observer back to the photography or the subject.
As long as one looks: That which ingratiates itself in color and form, still does not allow itself to be brought to a coherent order. Experience and logic are decommissioned by his motifs. What remains is the amazement regarding the dead flowers that someone has watered - a completely senseless act - or the discomfort at the irregular, almost painful view of the cleanly peeled, naked fruits.
The image of a baroque composed fruit bowl has an elegant and desolate effect simultaneously before the dark wood planking. Rotten fruit - that is a well known vanity motif from still life painting. This fruit, however, is not rotten, it has been attacked, even brutally lacerated. If most classical still life scenes are based on a memento-mori motif, death is only all too present in these images. This is also the case in one of his newest creations: a slit open, excepted fish is - similar to a marionette - hung on wires, so that its form takes on a lifelike force.
Niehaus plays out a macabre game with his work as only children are wont to do in their lack of sophistication. The known motif of dead nature, the "Nature morte" becomes, in his work, "Nature tuee" (tuer - fr. to kill). The innocence of the objects is destroyed and the honest medium of photography is damned to bear witness to it. Tanja von Dahlern.