The Alchemist

Seeking haven in Berlin’s Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts) on a typical fall day in Berlin (rainy, of course), the rooms appear, much like it is outside, not so bright and the atmosphere is a bit sleepy. Experimental photography by Heinz Hajek-Halke lines the walls and entering into his exhibition “Der Alchimist” (The Alchemist) is like somehow diving into a different and totally necessary atmosphere.

Walking through the exhibition, there is a constant feeling that you are surrounded by surreal paintings, but upon closer look they are actually photographs. Anyone with background in experimental photography and the manipulation of light on photosensitive paper (think of Moholy-Nagy), it could appear that the artistic outcomes by Hajek-Halke are nothing new. But if you look closer, you will realize that his work reaches the next level; each picture bringing an explosion of light, which seems captured in the molecules more than on the surface of the paper. The contrast between the ambience and the images creates eventually a weird alchemistic effect.

 Gläsernes Monument by Heinz Hajek-Halke

Gläsernes Monument, um 1955, Silbergelatine, 29,3 x 23,9 cm. Foto: Heinz Hajek-Halke. Sammlung Michael Ruetz / Nachlass Heinz Hajek-Halke. Photo: Courtesy of Akademie der Künste

A Scientist Undercover

Heinz Hajek-Halke was considered an alchemist then because his photography didn’t fit within any categorization or any artistic school as it was obtained through a scientific process. The artist was searching for something in the gray area between art and science and he achieved what is shown in the four rooms of the exhibition. While working in a darkroom, Hajek-Halke was able to achieve unbelievable physical-chemical effects that until now no digital software are able to recreate

Leaving this invigorating exhibition, it is somehow weird to return to the outdoors and what is left of daylight – a different kind of light. So the alchemist managed to illuminate this rainy day with his photographs. Who could have expected it? You surely should not miss this illuminating exhibition, even if it’s raining, you have time until the November 4th.

  •  Akademie der Künste  Heinz Hajek-Halke “Der Alchimist” –  Until Sunday November 4th 2012, Tues – Sun 11:00 – 19:00 [€ 6, 4 reduced]

Article written by Andrea Ongaro and Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck