Sep 15, 2011

PROFILE l April Gertler

April Gertler, Above It All, 2007, found photo, found paper, found magazine clipping, orange thread, graphite, 23.5 x 32 cm

Artist April Gertler is somewhat new into the world of contemporary art and she is proving that she is no one to be overlooked as she is bringing her new concepts and media into the contemporary art world. Gertler received her BFA in photography from California College of the Arts in Oakland, California (1997) and her BFA in photography from Stadelschule in Frankfurt, Germany (2002 winter semester exchange) and Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in New York (2001 / 2002.) Gertler now resides mostly in Germany where she was born but is constantly jet hopping around Europe while pursuing her passion for photography. Photography isn’t her only strong point although; she is bringing her outstanding collages into the mix as well.

April Gertler, Still Life, Berlin #2, 2002

Gertler has a two photography series that are still a work in progress these are named ‘If Only’ and ‘Still.’ Her photography is aesthetically pleasing when dealing with color treatments, focus, theme, imagination, and but of course the birds. Gertler is a definite contributor to this bird trend that I’m recognizing more and more but these are not your ordinary bird photos. ‘If Only’ is an on going project that makes Gertler adamant on showing her love for birds. These photographs of birds have the effect to stump you for a bit while they seem to be in their appropriate habitat but the photo, as a whole, just looks unrealistic, somewhat flat I’d say. Trying to settle this curiosity I read her artist statement and all of her bird photos in this series were photographed in a Natural History Museum. "I am concerned with how the fabricated environments of the diorama are viewed as still moments of a bird’s life while in their ‘natural’ habitat."

April Gertler, Untitled, 2008

In her series, ‘Still’ she has managed to bring birds back into scheme of things but in a different way. Gertler says, "Birds, like humans, are forever moving and hanging and morphing. It is hard to imagine us becoming so predictable as the birds are in their permanent environments." She uses bird dioramas that look very similar to her series ‘If Only’ while placing them next to simple portraits of human being in their habitats. Throughout this series Gertler has introduced a few night photographs as well. She has the ability to make a dark night look unnaturally bright while still being able to emphasize shadows, highlights and color. Her Polaroid series that started in 2002 has to be one of my personal favorites. Most of her artwork is small in scale, but they still pack a powerful kick.

April Gertler, Round Things Go, 2007, found photographs both black & white and color, origami paper, paint chips, 19.5 x 19.5 cm

April Gertler’s collages are created from her stash of personal photography, found photography and plenty of mixed media. A collector of found photography myself this gives me so many ideas and a new outlook on collage that is unordinary and made me realize some collages don’t always have to make sense. I appreciate her humor throughout some of her collages and the others are pure eye candy leaving your eyes burning trying to figure out what the hell she was thinking. Once she turned 38 years old in 2007, her series ‘38’ arose while her inspiration came from the ungodly art market price. The project was to sell one of her collages on her blog once a week for 38 dollars/euro. She says "The idea that I was circumventing the beaucracy of a dealer in addition that theoretically anyone could buy the work, became an integral and important part of the project." Her other series ‘It’s Happening Now’ deals with all forms of female representation, ‘16 Days in San Francisco,’ grew when she visited her sister in the Mission District of San Francisco, ‘The Weather Report’ covers a collaboration with artist Nick Butcher dealing with weather in Germany, where she lived, and weather in Illinois, where he lived. And finally my favorite ‘They are what they seem,’ plane, simple, and most importantly humorous. What makes Gertler’s collages cohesive is all the line usage, for the more confusing collages it directs your eyes where to go and adds a great personal touch.

Gertler has had solo exhibitions ranging from here in the US to Germany, Bulgaria and Canada among many other countries. Thus far she has had 38 group exhibitions all over the world. In the meantime Gertler founded PICTURE BERLIN in 2009, which is a residency in Berlin, Germany that takes in every aspect of the Berlin art scene for these inspired photographers. She has also founded an artist book project she has named, Damp Patches.
It seems impossible to touch base on all the other prominent works she has accomplished this decade in this one blog entry, I recommend everyone to look at her website because her work is remarkable.

-Amy Hughes

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