I saw David-Ashley Kerr’s exhibition, Rückenfigur, on its last day at Dear Patti Smith. Kerr and I were part of the same group show, Photography 10A, at the Brunswick Street Gallery back in 2010. I had seen his work at another group show at the Colour Factory this year. Rückenfigur was his first solo show.
The first thing I noticed once I entered the gallery was large-size prints. There were 4 light jet prints of 80x140 cm and 6 chromira prints of 117x200cm, all mounted on foam core. The details in each of Kerr’s photos was amazing. The photos depicted one individual in a contemplative state and set against a vast landscape. The minuscule subject in each photo is practically immersed in the massive landscape. As a viewer, you get lost in the grandeur.
Inspired from the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, we can see how Kerr invites us to take a moment to contemplate the beauty in the world that surrounds us. Having studied German Romanticism, Friedrich’s paintings reflected the notion of the sublime found in nature, as seen through the eyes of a halted subject admiring the scenery. In Kerr’s images, the subjects don’t appear struck by the sublime beauty of nature. Instead, the subjects are part of the landscape and the subject’s minuscule size against the landscape is what makes the whole image breathtaking. Unlike Friedrich’s cold colour palette of the characteristic Germanic landscape, Kerr used the warmer tones that are typical of Australian landscapes. Overall, Kerr successfully managed to depict in a unique manner the natural beauty of Australia.