Stephen Westfall

Roland Fischer Façades on Paper II

Roland Fischer’s extraordinary photographs of modernist skyscrapers do not,
at first glance, visually announce themselves as photographs. Rather, they look
like meticulous gridded abstractions rendered in pen and ink. Each image is
cropped into the façade of each building, so that we are shown the façade as
an even spread of pattern. Only when we are drawn closer to the surface of
Fischer’s images by their sharpness of detail do we confirm that they are in fact
products of photography.
The deep contrast between light and shadow is created by a combination of the
angle of light, the materials of each building, the speed of the film, and care-
ful printing. And yet the embodied eye, if not the hand, surely contributes as
much to the work as the mechanics of shutters and lenses. Fischer’s façades
allude to both abstract painting and portraiture, deliberately denying the
context and size of large buildings in order to reveal their unique decorative and
geometric patterns. Such decisions spring from inside the human frame rather
than the mechanical, and his work breathes with this unexpected warmth.
This contrast between human and mechanical effects extends to a close
reading of the surfaces of Fischer’s images and is what makes his silkscreens
so compelling. In the photographs, the geometric filigree of each building’s grid
pattern is imbedded in the emulsion of the print surface: in an appreciable
sense, the geometry cohabitates with a material fluidity. In a silkscreen, every
color break reads subtly as a discreet area and the ink itself appears to sit on
top of the paper as distinct material entity. This constructed feel may explain
why geometric painters find the process so engaging, and why these prints
represent such an exciting extension of Fischer’s photography.
In this new series, Fischer increases the chromatic complexity of his imagery,
and incrementally adds asymmetrical elements to the compositions, creating a
sense of openness. These beautiful silkscreens reintegrate the intricacies of
detail in the images with the distinctive physicality of the printing process. They
manifest a collaboration between artist and printer that stretches the formal
boundaries of the processes each brings to the table.
Stephen Westfall
published in: „Roland Fischer, Façades on Paper“ at Durham Press, Pennsylvania 2005