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Stefan Heyne

Born: 1965

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Christoph Tannert
Indications of What is Not Obvious

Is someone here incapable of focusing his lens? The fog of color that rules in Stefan Heyne’s photographs and that makes spaces and fragments of objects sink into the approximation of impression raises some questions. Questions of the relationship between optics and the psychology of perception, of the learning of legibility, of the dialog between photography and painting: in brief, of the perception of the picture.

With Stefan Heyne, it seems to me as if the eye were coerced into watching itself seeing. One could speak of a doubled perception, of what one has before one’s (rain-veiled) eyes and of what the imagination is to achieve. The effect depends on this process of assimilation. Behind it is the search for an art for which commentary and conceptual considerations seem as important as what meets the eye. This kind of coercion of perception and of reading the image places accents in the direction of the unexpected.
In the rulebook of modernism, intersections between photography and painting are as old as the medium itself. What is surprising is how Heyne responds with painterly soft-focus effects to the cool, downright mint-fresh pop productions of glossy surfaces with which current representational painting tries to maintain its catchy tone and its compatibility with the entertainment culture.

Stefan Heyne stands more on the other side, in the ranks of Anti-Pop, for he does not develop and animate the smudge-free production of surfaces, he experiments with it. He simulates smoothness, only to break through the slickness with distancing cloudiness. His impulse to buffer is connected with nothing else than turning off his camera’s automatic focus. These are contours of softening, increasingly abstract commentaries to expose cynicism and the armaments of fun.
Such a strategy gives rise to pictures that make some people feel good, while others see it as nothing but the production of illusion. That is why the line Stefan Heyne tries to balance along is narrow. But let it be clear: Heyne is not a representative of photographic Impressionism. He does not invoke the reproduction of mere moods any more than he is interested in the relation to documentation or the topicality of the television image.

He has made it his task to seek possibilities to give visibility to the perception of space and to let visual spaces arise through the composition of situations of light and surfaces. He counters the recent “bonjour tristesse” in the sense of subjective interpretation of the world by blurring motif and object and rejecting the expectation that the motif could contain concealed meanings.

Heyne uses the lens of his CANON 10D reflex camera to adjust “unfocuses”. The only digital retouching he undertakes is to “spot” the pictures. He does entirely without pictorial supplementations and interventions. When, as in “Painting” (2004), he eliminates color from the picture, then only for the sake of reversing or clarifying from positive to negative image.

Heyne’s view of reality is made visible in fuzziness, in the way that, with the relativizing of the visible, one’s own groping in space for what is not obvious, for the mysterious and ephemeral, becomes an occasion for producing pictures.

Heyne also clarifies anew that photography, despite all appearances, is completely unsuited to conveying precise information. The only clear statement of which it might be capable is to say: I am a photograph – and not a painting... Of course, Heyne immediately defeats it again with its own weapons on his compositional stage of ambivalences.


1987 - 1992 Study of stage design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin under Prof. Volker Pfüller
1993 Award of Masters Degree
1990 - 1995 Resident stage designer for the Freie Kammerspiele Magdeburg
Since 1995 Freelance stage designer

Most notably on a large number of world premieres and german first performances both the opera and drama
Collaborations in theatres as diverse as the Hamburgische Staatsoper, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, Volksbühne Berlin, Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Staatstheater Mainz, Freiburger Theater, Schauspiel Leipzig, Bremer Theater, Theater Basel
Since 1995 he works also as a photographer
2004 Brotfabrikgalerie: "Wo Liegt Berlin? Fotografische Annährungen an eine Stadt" with
E. Bertram, R. Miyamoto, G.+H. Nothhelfer a.o

BiographyArt objects

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