artnet Asks: Miklos Gaál

How do you make a soapy table seem interesting?

Miklos Gaál Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Danish photographer Miklos Gaál takes a step back with photography, experimenting with focal length and depth of field. Also playing with blurring and distance, he distorts and enhances events of the everyday, whether it be a soapy table or people going about their life in an unidentifiable city scene. Suspending the specifics, Gaál takes on a questioning of perception, truth, and photographic representation. Gaál has participated in artist residency programs in New York, Boston, Berlin, and São Paulo, and his work is held in collections worldwide including at Musée de l’Elysée, Kunsthalle in Emden, and the Calder Foundation. He lives and works in Amsterdam. artnet News caught up with the cerebral photographer to talk about his inspirations and what he does when he’s not questioning the subjective experience.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Becoming an artist was an idea that I had in my childhood. From early on, I had examples of artists around, either relatives or acquaintances, and also encouragement [for] the arts from the immediate family. The idea of being an artist was, of course, not a clear idea of what it would mean. It is hard to separate a distinctive profession or career from the artistic interests and activities that have evolved uncategorized since then.

Miklos Gaál, Dusk (2010) C-print 43.3 x 72.8 in. Photo: courtesy of miklosgaal.com.

Miklos Gaál, Dusk (2010)
C-print, 43.3 x 72.8 in.
Photo courtesy of miklosgaal.com.

What inspires you?
What I find interesting is a sudden shift in thinking that one can sometimes get, when suddenly seeing things anew, something previously unseen. In a moment, you have the sense that you feel and understand something intensely. This can take place somewhere close by, in one’s everyday routine—indeed, the closer the point of revelation is, the more it can be surprising and have more effect. It changes you a bit. Much of my artistic work is inspired by observation on immediate surroundings and reinterpreting it.

Miklos Gaál, Soap (2008) C-print 27.5 x 16.1 in. Photo: courtesy of miklosgaal.com.

Miklos Gaál, Soap (2008)
C-print, 27.5 x 16.1 in.
Photo courtesy of miklosgaal.com.

If you could own any work of modern or contemporary art, what would it be?
The snowman sculpture in front of a fireplace by [Peter] Fischli and [David] Weiss. I guess that was actually an ephemeral sketch for a work. It is an image from them that I have seen reproduced. Once asking about it from a curator involved in their exhibition where I saw the image printed in a poster, I was told that the snowman sculpture in front of a fireplace was a sketch in their creative process. So I suppose it exists as a reproduction only, and I don’t know if it has actually been published as an official piece in some form. I was engaged by the contradiction of the image, it’s playfulness and the inherent ephemerality of it.

Miklos Gaál, Hillside (2010) C-print 51.2 x 63.8 in. Photo: courtesy of miklosgaal.com.

Miklos Gaál, Hillside (2010)
C-print, 51.2 x 63.8 in.
Photo courtesy of miklosgaal.com.

What are you working on at the moment?
I recently finished a new series of photographic images, intervened by printing with silkscreen on top of them. It’s a project that is still active in my mind, and that has not yet been shown anywhere. I also just went to edit a small slide show from snapshot photographs.

I like to keep several projects active simultaneously that I work on, on and off, following the mood. Artistic work is a way of processing one’s own fascinations and inspirations. There is no predetermined aim in this process, but the manifest content of the work at hand reveals itself gradually by following the initial impulse.

When not making art, what do you like to do? 
One special thing beyond others is gardening. It is something that is very powerful, elevating and giving a lot of energy, aesthetic and primitive. It’s not something that I do frequently, sadly enough, but, at the moment, it’s active in my mind as I’m writing this during the summer season at my garden house in the woods.


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