Esther Mathis


The black-and-white photographs from Esther Mathis show snow-covered landscapes, plunging the observer into a fairy-tale, silent world. Wraithlike mountains, snowy pinnacles under the swirl of snowflakes or snow-covered, overgrown forests emerge from the fog. Soon they are surrounded by the clear day or the deep shadows of darkness. The haziness of the photographs with their fine shades of grey, indicative of the weather conditions, intensifies the impression of vagueness. The careful choice of detail, the lowered acutance, the nebular, diffused use of light with fluent transitions and an affectation for night and fog scenes bring the photographs close to pictorialism. Some of her works also move towards abstraction, especially the exposed slide. With a lack of reference points, a feeling of disorientation and of having lost one’s way sets in. The magic of the image as well as the emotional processes, which are prompted through the viewing of romantic landscapes, anchor Ester Mathis in the tradition of romantic German landscapes from the 19th century. Especially in her earlier portraits and figurative interpretations, the photographer focuses mainly on the fragility of nature and the human being.