Erik Kessels & Friends
Exhibition, NRW Forum, Dusseldorf, Germany
The Erik Kessels & Friends exhibition is the first comprehensive retrospective of this Dutch artist and advertiser who has a preference for the imperfect and the incomplete.
Erik Kessels ranks among the most important creative professionals in the world. He co-founded the international agency KesselsKramer in Amsterdam and is not only a rock star among advertisers, but is also an artist, curator, publicist, and passionate collector of photographs. Erik Kessels & Friends at NRW Forum in Dusseldorf comprises his most important works of the past 20 years, along with that of five friends, artists Paul Kooiker, Joan Fontcuberta, Peter Piller, Joachim Schmid, and Ruth van Beek, who intervene in the exhibition with their own works.
Kessels finds perfect pictures boring - he is interested in flawed, accidental, dissonant photographs, as those make the images human. In an interview, he told DAMN:
"As a detective I'm looking for a particular story in the pictures I find. A story you don’t notice at first glance. You're going to see it because I put it out in a certain way."
He collects all types of photographs from his own and other people's albums, as well as on the Internet. He does not alter or manipulate the images but, instead, he collects, sorts, and recontextualises the found items, and tells humorous stories of families and strangers, coincidences and destinies, of art and commerce, of remembering and forgetting, of succeeding and failing. His works are akin to narrative photography fairs that leave room for the unfinished, for coincidences, failures and for the imperfect as well as, at times, even some very personal insights into his own family portraits.