BILLY & HELLS
October 25 through December 8, 2012
Reception for the Artists: Thursday, October 25, 7–9 PM
The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present After Hours, the first U.S. exhibition from the contemporary photographers Billy & Hells. This retrospective exhibition is comprised of ethereal portraits and atmospheric landscapes from Billy & Hells’ previous photographic series. “Billy & Hells” is the pseudonym for the creative duo comprised of Berlin based photographers Anke Linz and Andreas Oettinger. The photographers met in the mid-1980s and shortly after, began collaborating creatively. Since 1995, the two have worked together under the name Billy & Hells. Their namesake expresses the same sense of edginess and mystery that their distinct images depict.
Billy & Hells’ photographs exist in a world of in-betweens. Their deceptively simple, straightforward portraits convey a certain complexity. The archetypal characters depicted in their photographs—mothers, soldiers, cowboys, nurses, and teachers— possess an underlying sense of mystery, hinting at the duality of the sitter as well as the fictional world they inhabit. Although Billy & Hells’ images call upon historical and art historical references, their portraits are not burdened by the stipulations of historical recreations. Instead, seamlessly blending past and present, reality and fantasy, their photographs become a nostalgic diary, purposefully left open for interpretation.
The duo discovered what has become their signature visual style via a typical lab-accident story— by forgetting to take a black and white negative out of the developer, they inadvertently produced an intense image with colors that appear simultaneously rich and muted. Their portraits combine elaborate, hand-painted backgrounds and draw inspiration from countless samples of fabrics, color compositions, and clothing that generate the distinct mood for each portrait.
In a recent special issue on Young German Photography, Deutsch magazine described the experience of viewing a Billy & Hells photograph as the following, “Inevitably, without warning, you enter a unique world of images. Each scene becomes a kind of pseudo-dwelling for the person contemplating it. The situations seem to be familiar, but you are never absolutely sure just what is happening in front of you, who the characters are, where to place the individual scenes. The commonplace is bristling with exceptions, the direction of narrative changes continually and leads you astray. Trivial things are combined with the bizarre. The mixture deriving from this casts a spell on us.” (Deutsch, “Young German Photography”, 2000 Published by Kruse Verlag, Hamburg)
Billy & Hells were nominated in 2007 for The National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait. The series “Blue Moon” was recently featured in the photographic quarterly Eyemazing. Their work has been exhibited and collected internationally. Anke Linz and Andreas Oettinger live and work in Berlin.
Press Images Available Upon Request.