From the series Stop, 2001, by Peter Piller

Stop by Archiv Peter Piller at Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, London.

John Platypus – September 2011

Stop” by Archiv Peter Piller is an interesting exhibition at the Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, Mayfair. The German artist Peter Piller spent 10 years of his life working in an advertisement agency called Carat, inHamburg, cataloguing regional newspapers. As picture editor he managed literally thousands of images published by German regional newspapers.

The idea of using images taken from newspapers – scanned and then elaborated for printing in large dimension – is unusual and therefore intriguing. Peter Piller do not use captions giving a new life to these pictures that were aggregated following a thematic order e.g. accidents, people receiving flower gift for their birthday and police searching.

The ‘Background Colours’ series was photographed by Peter Piller himself and it represents small colourful views of particulars from strip clubs just after having being used.

The Brancolini Grimaldi exhibition also displays one of his most celebrated project ‘Von Erde schöner’ (More Beautiful from Above) of aerial images – not recycled – depicting homes in the German countryside and sorted out in a group. 

Von Erde schoner by Peter Piller

These were given to Piller by a company that was hoping to sell the prints back to the homeowners. The business was a failure, so Peter Piller subsequently archived and categorised the images into unusual selections such as homes that were built next to graveyards, homes with swimming pools, homes with tents erected in the garden and homes with red bed linen hanging from windows.

This particular combination of recycled images and barely new photographs is captivating and in the meantime confusing, as the firsts obviously have not good definition when the seconds are high-quality prints. It should be maybe worth to clearly distinguish the two productions enhancing the approach at the work of the German artist.

However, the Brancolini Grimaldi exhibition reveals another fine artist with great ideas. Peter Piller has shaped from these plain images a typology of German suburbia that for a short moment appeared on the pages of local newspapers to immediately dissolve. When viewing these different disparate groups of images you become aware of the important role photography plays in defining social beliefs and customs.

Also the concept of recycling images to bring them to a new life is very descriptive of our contemporary society and in particular of the German one which is so keen to environmental and naturalistic culture.

Peter Piller was born in Fritzlar in the former West Germany in 1968. He also lived in Kassel, Idar-Oberstein and Würzburg. He studied at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, and from 1997 he worked in the media agency Carat, cataloguing regional newspapers. Since 2005 he has taught at Hochschule für Grafik and Buchkunst (Academy of Visual Arts), Leipzig where in 2006 he was appointed Professor of Photography. Piller was awarded the 2006 Bâlose Art Prize presented at the Art Statement of Art Basel for his project Unresolved Cases, and in 2004 he received the Ars Viva Award from by the Federation of German Industries. In 2007 Christoph Keller Editions and JRP Ringier published a 348-page book entitled Archiv Peter Piller: Zeitung that featured many of the newspapers images that Piller has collected and catalogued. A 320-page book of the project Von Erde schöner (More Beautiful from Above) was published by Revolver in 2004 that included 313 colour prints. He has had many one-person exhibitions and recently had a large survey exhibition of his work at the Kunstverein Braunschweig. Peter Piller build is Archiv Peter Piller that currently contains roughly 12.000 photographs. He lives and works in Hamburg and has been awarded and exhibited many times.

Showing from 2nd September 2011 until the 1st October 2011, at the Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, 43-44 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4JJ.