Critics’ Picks

Jochen Lempert, Fruit Dove, 2022, silver gelatin print, 14 1/2 x 9 5/8".

Jochen Lempert, Fruit Dove, 2022, silver gelatin print, 14 1/2 x 9 5/8".


Jochen Lempert

Grey Noise
Unit 24, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8 Al Quoz 1
January 11–March 31, 2023

To see the world through Jochen Lempert’s lens is to see, in delicate and at times near-cellular, detail, nature’s repetition of forms, the incidental mimicries between the elements and living things. The solo exhibition “Natural Sources” features twenty-five black-and-white photographs, mostly produced in the past three years, that unfold in sections themed around air, earth, and water. Initial images depict flight: Airtraffic, 2019, carries vapor trails into near abstraction, while F.e., 2022, captures a falcon’s subtle silhouette in midair. Cloud and Moon, 2020, spotlights a round and luminous full moon above a cloud, an image that finds its inverse in the shining black bead of a bird’s eye in Fruit Dove, 2022.

Lempert captures water in its many states: as a sheet of ice in Eisscheibe, 2022; as clusters of frost in Airplane Window, 2015; or as glimmering orbs in freefall in Drops II (three parts), 2018. At other times, the artist takes a microscopic approach to his subject matter. In the photogram Honeyguides II, 2022, he uses a flower petal as a negative to expose its inner botanical weavings, while his “Etruscan Sand” series, 2009–, renders grains of sand as abstract galaxies. In Subjektive Fotografie, 2013, Lempert places a camera set on long exposure on his torso, its lens pointing at a star. The resulting image etches the rise and fall of his breath onto film.

The show is a balm for eyes aching from the blue light of screens. Unadorned with frames or wall text and secured only by tape to the wall, there is a sense that these images are still in the darkroom awaiting selection, that they could be rearranged at random at any time, in yet another nod to the serendipitous forces of nature.