From animal skins to lava stones, all materials are fit to print on for Thomas Mailaender. Opening April 18, Michael Hoppen Gallery presents its first solo show of the French artist's work, highlighting projects old and new
Known for his offbeat experiments with printing processes, Thomas Mailaender is an artist constantly pushing the limits of the medium.
“I don’t think of myself as a photographer,” he says, having worked for 10 years with found imagery. Typically sourcing images from the internet and sifting out the content that captures his attention, Mailaender says he is interested in “reproducing images rather than making them myself.”
A selection of his work is to go on show at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in Chelsea, London. Opening April 18, and following on from his inclusion in exhibitions at London’s Saatchi Gallery and Tate Modern, the show is a combination of seen and unseen work, including a selection from the artist’s personal collection of ‘objets trouvés’ in The Fun Archaeology. Described as a ‘compulsive collector of photographs’, Mailaender has amassed his collection over many years.
The exhibition will also showcase his series Skin Memories, in which he developed techniques for printing on leather during a residency at LVMH Métiers d’Art. Plus, The Fun Archive is a collection of absurd, amateur photographs he started gathering from the internet in 2000. Once removed from context and printed onto their intended surface or material, the resulting objects are transformed into paeans to contemporary culture.
Unsure of how his ideas come about, Mailaender says they seem to be continuous – in the sense that each project will often lead to another. While he likes each work to be different, at the core of each one, Mailaender is interested specifically in process, pairing traditional techniques with today’s prolific digital visual culture. “I’m passionate with process,” he says. “It’s nice to return to the process, rather than spend time on the computer.”
“Right now, I’m feeling upset with the internet. I have the feeling that we are overloaded with images and information, and I am kind of nostalgic about the pre-internet era,” admits Mailaender, which is why he feels so strongly about creating a material, more permanent archive of imagery.
Recently, Mailaender collaborated with a funeral craftsman to print images onto ceramic and lava stones, a durable technique mainly used for printing photos onto tombstones. This permanent process eternalises the image so that it will never fade away, explains Mailaender. “In our age, images are mostly stored on hard drives and at some point they will disappear.”
The show runs from 18 April to 26 May 2018 at Michael Hoppen Gallery, 3 Jubilee Place, London. For more details visit the gallery site.