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Near Mogno, Valle Maggia, Ticino, Switzerland
IntroductionTHE WIDE WORLD
Helmut Hirler is part of an unbroken tradition of bold pioneers, who for centuries attempted to describe the earth’s strangeness and beauty. When photography became portable in the mid nineteenth century, it outstripped the wordy reports, augmenting and replacing these with the likenesses of landscapes and cultures. To capture these, even photographers would take great pains upon themselves, accompanying explorers on yearlong expeditions or traveling alone, all the better to astound those who stayed at home with his discoveries upon his return. The singular prints and photographic enlargements from this era are an exclusive market today.
Urbane photographer Helmut Hirler takes his motorcycle, his panorama camera in his backpack, for the treks he now finds short, like from his native Allgäu, Germany to the Spanish mountains. Yet the ever-new search for far-flung natural and cultural landscapes also tempts him. Writer Paul Theroux might well express his thoughts: “That is the best mood for a departure: I was ready, I was game for anything. Only later, when you’re en route, do you notice that the greatest distance awakens the greatest illusions and that traveling alone is both a pleasure and a burden.”* Photographer Hirler relates his long, solitary tours in his panoramic images. They often lead him to southern regions; the Asian Pacific region is one of his primary destinations. But he also finds space in his work, which is regularly honored with exhibitions, books, and calendar editions, for the wooded landscapes of his native southern Germany – almost as much as for sprawling deserts, hidden river valleys, and venerable Asian temple complexes.
Hirler has also anchored part of his life and work in New Zealand; high-ranking galleries here also display his images. The true reason for his love of New Zealand, however, lies not only in his success there but also in the artist’s temperament. He calls the best thing about a “one-in-a-century day” being under an open sky with a camera, alone, “not a single person far and wide.” An experience one has seldom in Central Europe – but it is possible in New Zealand, as well as in Iceland, parts of central Spain, and all the areas of untouched nature Hirler tirelessly travels through. “The unknown landscape is enough reason to look for it”* Paul Theroux offers as an answer.
Hirler makes a lot of time for his photographic journeys to new regions, as he did most recently for the entire year of 2007. Hirler had a particular camera in his luggage. The heavy Technorama with a 6x17cm negative format captures images on black-and-white film – only four shots per roll – in hardly beatable brilliance. He often uses infrared materials and perfected filter combinations in order to convey a landscape’s strong sense of drama. In doing so, Hirler reinforces his encounters with nature in his shots, continues the dialogue in the darkroom, and only then, when it truly speaks to him, renders it in a photograph of the finest gray tones. It should tell of solitary wanderings through wide landscapes and their beauty. The phrase “bound to nature” is too insipid for Hirler’s devotedness; something much stronger penetrates the surfaces of his photographs: the unbound love of the visible world.
*From Patagonia Revisited by Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux, Houghton Mifflin, 1986Bio
1954 born 1970-1973 studies photography 1978-1980 Master class, Bayrische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie, Munich, Germany 1979-heute Technical tutor, Gewerbliche Schule, Bad Saulgau, GermanyAwards
2008 iF Communication Design Award (book Castillos) Red Dot Award (book Castillos) Red Dot Award (calendar Great Landscapes) Internationale Kalenderschau Stuttgart, Germany (calendar Trees-Bäume) 2006 DDC Award (Design Club Germany) International Calendar Exhibition Stuttgart, Germany International KODAK Calendar Award 15. Trierenberg Super Circuit (world's greatest photo competition) iF Communication Design Award (book Zeit des Wartens) iF Communication Design Award (book Trees Bäume) Red Dot Award 2005 iF Communication Design Award 2004 International Calendar Exhibition Stuttgart, Germany International KODAK Calendar Award 13. Hasselblad Austrian Super Circuit iF Communication Design Award Red Dot Award 1. World of Images Circuit, Linz, Austria 2003 International Calendar Exhibition Stuttgart, Germany International KODAK Calendar Award International AGFAnet Photo Award 12. Hasselblad Austrian Super Circuit Societe des Artistes Francais, Le Salon 2003, Paris, France 2002 11. Hasselblad Austrian Super Circuit 2001 International Exhibition of Photography, Oregon, USA 1999 AGFAnet International Landscape Competition International Exhibition of Photography, Oregon, USA 1998 International Exhibition of Photography, Oregon, USA Gold medal of the Photographic Society of America,
bronze medal of the Oregon State Fair
Tetenal FINE ART AWARD Panorama competition of the Kamerawerke Dresden, Germany 1997 International Exhibition of Photography, Oregon, USA World HeritageExhibitions
Das andere Amerika, cultural and conference center Vöhringen, Ulm, Germany Castillos, cultural and conference center Vöhringen, Ulm, Germany Tierra Magica, cultural and conference center Vöhringen, Ulm, Germany Fragmente - Bilder aus Amerika, Berliner Palais, Unter den Linden, Berlin, Germany Bilder aus Patagonien, LINHOF-Galerie, Munich, Germany Castillos, LINHOF-Galerie, Munich, Germany Schwarz-Weiss, Kunsträume Farmsen, Hamburg, Germany Die Vergessenen, Werkstattgalerie Tam Uekermann, Cologne, Germany Arcana Naturae, Haus der Photographie, Hanover, Germany Tierra Magica, Galerie Lände, Kressbronn, Germany Tierra Magica, Fototage, Laupheim, Germany Von Landschaft inspiriert, Schloss Achberg, Germany Tierra Magica; and Mahnmale der Endlichkeit, Schloss Salem, Germany Mahnmale der Endlichkeit, cultural center LINSE, Weingarten/Ravensburg, Germany Castillos, Plassenburg, Kulmbach, Germany
Castillos, Primacolor, Jakarta, Indonesia
Tierra Magica; and Fragilitas, Rosenau, Kempten, Germany Tierra Magica, City Hall, Würzburg, Germany Castillos, Felix-Fechenbach-Haus, Würzburg, Germany Castillos, Waaghaus, Ravensburg, Germany Arcana Naturae, Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Germany Castillos, Kreissparkasse Leutkirch, Germany Mahnmale der Endlichkeit, Ecumenical Center of Learning Sanctclara, Mannheim, Germany Photographien 1947-2004, byToni Schneiders and Helmut Hirler, Galerie Fähre Bad Saulgau, Germany Castillos, Pasinger Fabrik, Munich , Germany Tierra Magica, Markgrafenschloss Emmendingen, Germany Zeit des Wartens, Ecumenical Center of Learning Sanctclara, Mannheim, Germany Panorama Photographie, HOCHTIEF Galerie, Nuremberg, Germany Wasser, Petrikirche, Kulmbach, Germany Das Wasserprojekt 1, Reitstadl Neumarkt, Germany Iceland, VHS-Photo Galerie, Stuttgart, Germany River East Gallery, Greytown, New Zealand Panorama, Tin Crab Gallery, Waikanae Beach, New Zealand Flagstaff Gallery, Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand Peter Reynolds Interiors, Rotorua, New Zealand Galerie Kunst und Köstlich; and Neues Schloss, Kisslegg (Allgaeu), Germany Aotearoa - Das Land der langen weißen Wolke - Bilder aus Neuseeland, Cultural Center LINSE, Weingarten/Ravensburg, Germany Taylor Jensen Fine Arts, Palmerston North, New Zealand